RE: MD Intellectually Nowhere

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sat Aug 09 2003 - 17:50:35 BST

  • Next message: David Buchanan: "RE: MD The Intellectual Level"

    Bodvar, Sam and all:

    Good to hear from you, Sam. When time allows, I'd be interesting in your
    thoughts about America's newly installed gay Bishop. (Under a different
    thread name, of course.) Anyway, on to the topic...

    Bo said:
    Sam Norton had dug out a Wittgenstein quote on that issue. I am unable to
    find it (June sometime) but I remember that David agreed with it. ...
    If my memory serves me Wittgenstein maintains that thinking is
    language internalized, but "internalized" does it make any difference,
    isn't language already internal "manipulations of symbols"? It truly is.
    Words are abstract symbols manipulated by the rules of grammar and
    syntax, yet, the question is not if language-as-thinking is
    manipulation of symbols, rather if manipulation of symbols is the
    (value of the) intellectual level?

    dmb says:
    The question in this thread is about Lila's ability to percieve intellectual
    quality. And it is often assumed that an ability to use language must be
    intellectual because it involves the manipulation of symbols. On that
    premise it is easy to assume that Lila can see intellectual qualtiy. But as
    Sam and Wittgenstein and many others have pointed out, our common sense
    assumptions about language are mistaken and so the premise is false. Just
    yesterday, to use a completely different example, I heard a radio interview
    with a academic type who has just written a book about the connection
    between language and music. (Apologies for the lack of detail on this.) His
    conclusion is that way back in our evolutionary history, language and music
    were the same thing. They were as yet undifferentiated from each other and
    functioned as a single thing....

    PIRSIG at the end of chapter 30:
    "One can imagine primitive song-rituals and dance-rituals associated with
    certain cosmology stories, myths, which generated the first primitive
    religions. From these the first intellectual truths could have been derived.
    ... Their sequence in history suggests that principles emerge from ritual,
    not the other way around. That is, we don't perform religious rituals
    because we believe in God. We believe in God because we perform religious
    rituals. If so, that's an important principle in itself."

    dmb says:
    Applying this principle to language itself, and I think this is what
    Wittgenstien was getting at, we can say that we don't speak because we have
    intellect. We have intellect because we talk. And so on the issue of Lila
    the character, I think its safe to say that her ability to talk doesn't
    imply an ability to percieve intellectual quality. And speaking itself can
    not rightly be cited as an example of the "manipulation of symbols".

    Bodvar said:
       ... the "mechanism" that Pirsig touches on in LILA that all levels
    resist an outgrowths from themselves even if is a Quality growth, they
    only see corruption of own value: A biological organism just wants to
    live not to give its life for the good of the group. Society doesn't like
    anyone questioning their pillars be it religious faith or national
    interests, and now Intellect panics to see one of the its "ideas"
    degrading it from the noble position of thinking which enables it to
    contain all existence. And you all seem only too eager to serve
    intellect's interest.

    dmb says:
    As unlikely as it may seem in a forum like this, the intellect needs
    defending. I'm protesting the notion that every normal person percieves
    intellectual quality more or less equally. Your objections, Bo, are very far
    away from all that. I basically agree with the "mechanism" you describe, but
    I think it is misapplied in this case. The higher values are inperceptible
    to the lower ones, this is part of the explanation for Lila's status, but
    this cross-level conflict is not the only mechanism by which static patterns
    persit and are preserved. The cultural immune system, for example, protects
    itself from alien patterns even though they are at the same level. Our
    biological immune system keeps the bugs out too. Ideas may be rejected for
    many reasons, some of them may even be damn good reasons. Ideas might
    wrongly be rejected because they are beyond one's ability to percieve of
    comprehend them, but then they can also be rejected because they just don't
    add up.


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