Re: MD Structuralism in Pirsig

From: Steve Peterson (
Date: Tue May 27 2003 - 20:34:58 BST

  • Next message: MATTHEW PAUL KUNDERT: "Re: MD Structuralism in Pirsig"

    Hi Wim,

    Thanks for your response.
    You said:
    > You were describing only 3 levels when you wrote:
    > 'If a person's sense of self is not yet differentiated from the physical
    > world (does not see it's body as self and the pillow as not self) it is not
    > inorganically aware (Piaget's sensory motor level). If a person's sense of
    > self is not differentiated from emotions and physical sensations (e.g. the
    > universe is not pain itself right now, only my self is feeling pain) then
    > that person has not developed biological awareness. If a person's identity
    > is not differentiated from a social role, then this person has not yet
    > developed intellectual awareness (or so my child development hypothesis
    > goes).'
    > If you agree that there are 4 levels, the logic of what you wrote demands
    > that you substitute 'social awareness' for 'intellectual awareness' in the
    > last sentence.

    Steve says:
    Yes, I goofed. Thanks.

    >Which leaves to be described a person who has developed
    > social but not intellectual awareness...

    I did distinguish intellectual awareness from social awareness as follows:

    If the person is "identifying their thinking with," ...then they have a
    sense of self that is differentiated from their thoughts.
    In other words, if I think, "my thinking fits in with this group," I can
    then ask, "who is this self that can categorize my thoughts?" This self is
    differentiated from intellectual patterns and is thus aware of intellectual
    patterns and is operating on the intellectual level in my book....
    On the other hand, if instead of "identifying their thinking *with*" the
    person is "identifying *with* their thinking," then this person is not
    intellectually aware and is operating at the social level."

    Wim said:
    > I agree with you that 'identifying one's thinking with a larger group'
    > doesn't qualify one as [only] 'functioning at the social level' (as Sam
    > wrote). In my scheme of things we cannot speak of 'thinking' and of
    > 'identifying' in the way we usually understand them when people function
    > only at the social level, i.e. if the highest patterns of value they
    > participate in are patterns of (unthinking) behavior copied from others.
    > So I don't think that 'identifying with [a group's] thinking' qualifies one
    > as [only] operating at the social level (as you wrote) either.
    > People functioning only at the social level as defined by me (who must be
    > either very young or mentally handicapped) have only a sense of 'belonging'.
    > They behave according to roles and they show recognition of different roles,
    > but they don't 'identify' with a role (nor with a group). They recognize
    > different individuals in their group (and themselves if they would see their
    > own reflection) by superficial characteristics and different patterns of
    > behavior (as a chimp does), but they don't experience themselves, let alone
    > others, as 'subjects' who 'choose'. They can (unlike most animals)
    > dissociate themselves from their emotions and physical sensations. So for
    > instance it is not (only) anger or aggression that makes a male face a
    > predator that threatens his family group, but his sense of belonging that
    > makes him overcome his fear. People functioning only at the social level can
    > build, maintain and pass on material culture (e.g. elaborate ways of making
    > the artifacts they need for survival) and thus 'society', unlike most
    > animals. They do not create 'myths' or any other stories, but when they have
    > passed the threshold of creating and participating in intellectual patterns
    > of value, the myths and stories they DO create describe (at first) only life
    > at the social level. So mythology IS a way to get a better understanding of
    > the social level (as David B. has been trying to impress upon us for ages).

    Steve says:

    That all sounds good to me and gives needed clarity to my thinking.

    Wim said:
    > Levels of awareness/consciousness/thinking etc. (like Wilber's ones) are
    > (very useful) subcategories of level 4. When we speak about 'awareness' of
    > the physical world, of sensations/emotions etc. in people (or even in
    > elementary particles) functioning only at lower than fourth levels, we are
    > only 'projecting down' an intellectual pattern of value. We are talking
    > about our (projected) experience, not about theirs.

    I'm not sure that I follow you. I think you may be saying that we part
    company on the idea of applying the idea of awareness to the
    non-intellectually aware.

    I infer from the realization that Experience= Reality and that Experience is
    Quality, that all of reality experiences (i.e. values) as well, thus for the
    atom, Experience = Quality just as it is for me.

    Is this what you mean? That you don't like to think of atoms and the like
    as aware in any sense? I'll assume it is, for now.

    Wim said:
    > So yes, Johnny, I do object to the word 'choice' in 'value choices made by
    > atoms and molecules' (as you supposed 15 May 2003 19:06:18 +0000). Static
    > patterns of value describe determination rather than free choice (as Dynamic
    > Quality does). We'd better think and describe them in terms of mechanisms
    > maintaining patterns that embody value.

    Steve says:
    I can see how the word "choice" may imply intellectual functioning, but only
    if you assume that one has a sense of its own choice, which I don't. (I
    agree that to have a sense of one's choice is to have a rationale which is
    to participate in an intellectual pattern.)

    I see no reason why it's better to think of the world as mechanistic. I
    would rather think of atoms and molecules responding to Quality in extremely
    stable patterns of behavior, rather than as participating in a mechanistic
    determinism. The determination you describe is an example of "'projecting
    down' an intellectual pattern of value" just as is using Quality as a
    metaphor for the experience of an atom.

    But I feel that my "downward projection of an intellectual pattern" is
    justified, because as I understand the MOQ, the atom *is* aware of Quality
    while it is not aware of any causal laws that determine its behavior. My
    projection of the idea of awareness upon atoms may be anthropomorphic but it
    is not anthropocentric. I am taking the perspective of the atom. To call
    its behavior determined is anthropocentric because it views the atoms
    behavior from a human perspective and infers rules from its behavior.

    In short, I see my projection of awareness of response to Quality onto all
    things as the MOQ itself, and your projection of determinism as an example
    of SOM thinking.


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