Re: MD Pirsig the postmodernist?

From: Matthew Stone (
Date: Wed Feb 26 2003 - 09:48:43 GMT

  • Next message: "Re: MD Pirsig the postmodernist?"

    Hi Platt, thanks for the reply,

    > Is man not the center of thought? Who or what would
    > you nominate as
    > the center of thought if not man?

    When I say man is at the centre of thought I am
    denoting the reciprocity between the subject and the
    object that constitutes thought. Man thinks, but
    thought also defines man. This ‘humanism’ is a term
    used by Foucault to describe not only man’s inability
    to recognise this circularity, but also the inability
    to think ‘outside’ it. E.g., morality is defined by
    man, but also defines how man thinks about morality:
    all whilst man thinks he is engaging with ‘reality’,
    when clearly he isn’t. To decentre man here is to
    open thought up to questioning the very basis, the
    very frontier, of this circular process. One can see
    now why I feel the MoQ has a role to play, as it sees
    ‘universals’ not as universal, but mere patterns of
    value – man can be decentred.

    > Who is "they?"

    ‘They’ are this fundamental concepts created by man,
    e.g. truth, reason, morality.

    > Yes, I do deny that truth, morals and thought are
    > the result of chance
    > and change....I
    > believe is it absolutely and forever moral to
    > eliminate slavery. How about
    > you?

    Are you asserting that all truth, all morals, are
    universal, or only some? In any case, you’re
    effectively arguing against the last 40 years of
    thought. If slavery is ‘absolutely’ immoral, surely
    it must have been immoral before mankind came along –
    this is absurd: as absurd as gravity existing before
    Newton, to paraphrase Pirsig himself.

    > Pirsig doesn't "deconstruct" SOM. He points out its
    > essential
    > weakness.

    I would argue that he does deconstruct it: he traces
    its development, it’s key moments, such as to point
    out the cracks in it’s foundation – this is
    deconstruction. But I’m interested in the idea of the
    MoQ including SOM.

    > Could
    > you explain the postmodernist concern with
    > "humanism" in thought? I
    > thought postmodernists were, for the most part,
    > humanists.

    I think the ‘humanism’ thing is explained in my first

    > I fail to see any agreement between the MOQ and
    > postmodern theory
    > which begins by denying the existence of a universal
    > truth while at the
    > same time asserting its denial to be universally
    > true. Do you see the
    > absurdity?

    Pirsig interrogates the very basis upon which thought
    takes place; he shows how thought within the SOM is
    not, as previously thought, a true window on reality,
    but rather just one way of perceiving reality; he
    nihilistically denies the rightful sovereignty of any
    mode of thought – this is virtually a dictionary
    definition of postmodernism as it applies to discourse
    on thought. And I think your sentence perhaps
    misrepresents the postmodernists – I think they would
    rather it be phrased “all I can be sure of is that
    there is no universal truth”.


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