Re: MD Does she or not?

From: Steve Peterson (
Date: Mon Aug 04 2003 - 03:36:27 BST

  • Next message: Platt Holden: "Re: MD Lila's Child (SOM)"

    > Steve:
    > She doesn't have intellectual quality. Pirsig said that Quality has Lila.
    > dmb said:
    > Oh. Right. I don't know that anyone has explicitly said otherwise. We've
    > just been following the phrases from the quotes. But I think we all agree
    > that quality is not a possession owned by the individual. Its the stuff of
    > which we are composed, so to speak.

    Not "so to speak," literally.

    >But even there we have to ask, "what
    > kind?". What is Lila made of? What's she all about? (And even though our
    > exchange has been quite heated, I'm thrilled this we've finally gotten to
    > this central question. It allows us to discuss some of the literary elements
    > for a change, which is about half the book. I wish there were more posters
    > on the topic.)
    > Steve:
    > I agree that she is not after intellectual or social quality. She is
    > dominated by biological value. There is no disagreement on dominance or what
    > type of person she is.
    > dmb says:
    > Really? Well, that's all I was trying to say.

    Yeah, but whether or not she participates at all in static intellectual
    patterns of value is still of issue.

    > Steve:
    > I don't see why I need to restate the arguments that others have already
    > made.
    > dmb says:
    > Yea. I get that alot. Its the kind of brush off I see far too often. Why
    > restate it? Maybe because they are not your arguments. Maybe because they
    > did not convince in the first place. Or maybe they were already addressed
    > and defeated. Maybe because I have to read dozens of posts every weekend and
    > shouldn't have to hunt for the other guy's case.

    My time is valuable, too.

    >Maybe becasue I want you to
    > show me, in your own words, the line of reasoning. Maybe from now on I will
    > just assume that such brusher-offers just are not capable of making their
    > case. Do you subscribe to the notion that those who can't explain an idea
    > don't really understand that idea? I do.

    Me too, but when I give you my reasons, you respond with something like,
    "you haven't given us one reason..." Very frustrating.

    >In fact, I think its interesting to
    > ask questions just to test posters.

    Perhaps. I wouldn't know. I only ask questions when I want to learn

    >It has a way of weeding out the B.S. Or
    > at least it makes people really work their way through it in a methodical
    > way that can then be reproduced here in writing. That's what its all about,
    > no?

    No. It sounds like arguing is a game to you. I'm actually here to learn
    rather than to test my skills.
    > Steve said:
    > I just don't equate types of patterns of value with types of people. Can you
    > see a difference?
    > dmb says:
    > No. I don't equate the two. You've made this point many times. Let's go
    > there. I wonder what you mean, exactly. Could you explain it? Tell me why
    > these differences are so important. (Forgive me, but I fully expect another
    > brush off on this one.)

    Well then, according to Johnny Moral's MOQ...

    I've actually explained this to you a couple times before under some 'types
    of people/patterns of value' thread. Are you just testing me?

    > Steve said:
    > Do you think Lila can be convinced of something with a rational argument?
    > Not at the point when she thought the doll was her baby, course. But before
    > that, could she understand reasoning like 'to make French fries you'll have
    > to buy some potatoes'? Could she see the value in that statement over the
    > statement, 'to make French fries you'll have to read Kant'? Or the value of
    > 2+2=4 over 2+2=5? If so, then she responds to intellectual quality as all
    > humans do. To me it's as simple as that. Simply thinking. Sure, it takes
    > much more than that to earn societies label of being "an intellectual," but
    > I'm talking about a species of value, not a social distinction.
    > dmb says:
    > This is very easy to understand. But it seems to me that you're only making
    > a case that Lila can preform some basic mental operations, that she has some
    > cognitive ability. That's fine. But I don't think this shows that she is
    > capable of responding to intellectual quality.

    Then we differ on our definitions of intellectual patterns. Only I've given
    you mine (Pirsig's). You tell me that I need to infer your rule from a long
    list of examples. You've told erin that you have no definition, that you
    need to get to know someone really well and learn what they value and see if
    it fits with the examples that you've dug up from Lila. I disagree. I'll
    use Pirsig's definition.

    >The pyramid designers were
    > very intelligent and had to preform all sorts of sophisticated mental
    > operations, if you will, but the whole point of that task was religious.
    > Equating intelligence or cognitive ability with intellectual values is the
    > mistake. That's why "simply thinking" is such a disasterous definition.

    > (There is another example of a brush-off. I've been asking those who use
    > that definition to provide the context by way of explanation. So far I got
    > nada.)

    I don't think any special context is necessary to understand intellect as
    simply thinking or more specifically the manipulation of language based
    symbols that stand for patterns of experience.

    > But more to the point. In spite of Lila's ability to slice potatoes and cut
    > her own meat,

    [and apply rules of logic!]

    >I think her behavior speaks volumes about her lack of ability
    > to percieve intellectual values. Consider just this one point, will you? She
    > is sailing down the Hudson with one of the most fascinating and famous
    > philosophers alive today. And how does she see things? She thinks he's a sad
    > sack! Can you imagine? Its hard to imagine how anyone could be more
    > oblivious. Intellectually speaking, I would describe Lila as a bimbo without
    > a clue. And who hasn't met people like that?

    Yeah, she's no intellectual. No need to convince me further. It's beside the
    point. If you distinguish patterns of value from types of people someone
    who is not an intellectual can still participate in intellectual patterns of

    > Steve said:
    > No animal will experience the low quality of an illogical statement, but any
    > human adult will. What kind of quality could I be talking about in
    > referring to an illogical statement or a rational one if not intellectual
    > quality?
    > dmb says:
    > Right. Logic and rationality are in the right neighborhood.

    In the right neighborhood? Are they *nearly* intellectual patterns of
    value? The levels are discrete!

    >But I'd again
    > point out that cognitive skills are not quite the same thing as values.

    But everything is value. If reasoning isn't participating in an
    intellectual pattern then what type of pattern are you talking about?

    > I
    > mean, it seems to me that they are only a necessary, but insufficient
    > condition. You gotta have it, but its not enough. Hitler, for example,
    > displayed anti-intellectual values in the extreme, but this is not the same
    > as saying he was stupid or whatever.

    Call me a Nazi if you must, but I also think Hitler, while not being an
    intellectual, participated in intellectual patterns of value. All human
    adults do (minus ones with mental handicaps). Even evil ones.

    > Steve said:
    > If Lila can value reason and give reasoned arguments to others then she
    > participates in intellectual patterns of value to some degree as I
    > understand the intellectual level. If you have a better definition, please
    > tell me.
    > dmb says:
    > Well, there are rational arguments by well informed thinkers and then there
    > are childish and defensive rationalizations. I see Lila doing the latter,
    > but not the former.

    I agree, but I think it's beside the point.

    > I see this kind of thing all the time. There has been a
    > debate about gay marriage in the media in recent days. I see lots of very
    > clever cases being made by perfectly intelligent people. But some of them
    > are asserting social level values (homosexuality is a sin) over and above
    > intellectual values (equality of rights, equality before the law, privacy
    > rights). A Yale philosophy graduate with the largest vocabulary in the world
    > and a 180 IQ could make the case that its a sin and it would still just be
    > social values that are being asserted.

    "I think the conflicts mentioned here are intellectual conflicts in which
    one side clings to an intellectual justification of existing social patterns
    and the other side intellectually opposes the existing social patterns." So
    does Pirsig since those words are his. (Lila's Child' annotation 52)

    > dmb says:
    >... all this has already been said and,
    > amazing as it is to me, it has not convinced you. ...
    I know what you mean. At one point I thought that you were arguing just to
    argue or that you were too proud to back down from what I see as an absurd
    position. I can now see how sincere you are, and I appreciate the time
    you've taken though I don't think we are getting anywhere.


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