Re: MD Undeniable Facts

From: Steve Peterson (
Date: Sat Apr 19 2003 - 16:27:22 BST

  • Next message: Scott R: "Re: MD Barfield's version of the third and fourth levels"

    Hi Platt,
    You said:
    > I think Scott and Steve may be saying the same thing. But I'm not sure.
    > Would you help settle the question for me? Are you both together on
    > the concepts of Quality, DQ, SQ and the Quality Event?.

    I don't think of the Quality Event as a "peak experience," like Scott does.

    I'll try to see if I can work with DQ as a "primary context" and describe
    the Quality Event, DQ, and SQ as well as I can. (I won't go into the levels
    to be as brief as possible. I'll say a bit about postmodernism, but I will
    be referring to the worldview, not philosophy since I don't know much about
    postmodern philosophy.) Sorry about the length. Here goes:

    I would say that an "experience of" has an objective aspect and a subjective
    aspect. There is that which was experienced (external) and the
    interpretations of the same experience (internal). The context of an
    experience has the subjective aspect of the influence of previous
    experiences on the interpretations of the new experience as well as an
    objective aspect of context. Both aspects of context result in boundless
    possibilities since all people have different previous experiences
    (boundless subjective aspects) and "you can never step in the same river
    twice" (infinite objective aspects).

    Understanding experiences this way, the postmodernist concludes that there
    will be infinitely many possible interpretation of an experience, and all
    interpretations are valid. (The moral relativist type of postmodernist
    takes this a step further and concludes that all interpretations are equal.
    I hope he will be dealt with later.)

    It seems we have to conclude that all judgments about quality are subjective
    and, therefore, all valid. This is the unsatisfactory situation that
    Pirsig found himself in as a rhetoric teacher in Montana. All
    interpretations are valid, but it didn't follow that they all are equal.
    Some things really seem better than others.

    What an absurd and futile world it would be without quality having a
    reality. But where does quality reside? It isn't in the object, or we
    could measure it. From a scientific point of view, to say it is subjective
    amounts to saying it isn't real. Science can only study things from the out
    side. To say it is subjective is to say that it can only be known
    internally. From a purely scientific point of view (materialism,
    scientism), quality does not exist.

    But we definitely do intuit quality. Quality is real. We experience it,
    though science cannot measure it. Who would deny it? With this
    understanding, materialism is defeated. Reality is not merely that which
    has matter and energy--that which can be measured scientifically.

    But is quality just in our heads? Is value just a subjective judgment.
    Here comes the stroke of genius--a "Copernican inversion." Pirsig saw that
    Quality resides not in the subject, nor in the object. Quality is the
    fundamental nature of reality. Everything is Quality.

    At the moment of awareness (which is all the time and everywhere), a subject
    becomes aware of an object. That moment is the Quality Event. Pirsig's
    inversion is to see the subject and the object in this moment of awareness
    as deduced from awareness of Quality and not the other way around as is
    traditionally thought.

    Quality is the primary context that gives birth to infinite worlds. It is
    awareness without content. This experience without content (distinguished
    from an "experience of") implies subjects perceiving objects, and therefore
    it creates them. They are a subsidiary deduction from Quality. With this
    inversion nothing is changed, yet everything is changed.

    But what about the moral relativist? Is he correct to say that nothing is
    better than anything else since all perspectives are valid?

    Rather than use the distinction of subjects and objects as the primary
    division that enables understanding of reality, Pirsig's second major
    insight was to divide reality into a creative aspect (dynamic quality) and a
    self-sustaining aspect (static quality). In ZAMM he explained how the
    Quality event produces subjects and objects. In Lila, he explained that it
    is more useful to think of the Quality Event as Dynamic Quality leaving
    static patterns of value in its wake which can latch or not onto other
    static patterns of value.

    The postmodernist who realized that all perspectives are valid will now see
    that all perspectives are not equal. There is such a thing as immoral and
    moral behavior in a "metaphysics of Quality" (the understanding of reality
    based on the idea of Quality as the fundamental stuff of existence and a
    static/dynamic rather than subject/object primary division of reality).

    We can infer the direction of the creative force and judge our own moral
    behavior in terms of participation in the creative force by favoring what it
    favors. Some behavior is a movement in the direction of the creative force
    (moral) and other behavior is movement in the opposite direction (immoral).
    We can study evolutionary history in the broadest sense to uncover what is
    worth creating and sustaining--it can help us determine "what is best" (the
    big question that Pirsig wanted to talk about in ZAMM).

    Platt (and anyone else), I'd really appreciate any constructive criticism of
    the content of my summary. I've said some things that I'm not sure of and
    I'm hoping that the can confirm or correct my reading of Pirsig.


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