RE: MD Does she or not?

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sat Aug 09 2003 - 20:31:32 BST

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    Steve said to dmb:
    .................... 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.

    dmb says:
    That's nice. Thanks. We do agree on at least one thing, we're not getting
    anywhere. And maybe I should just let it go and end on a nice note, but let
    me ruin all that and comment on this...

    Steve said to Johnny:
    Whether dogs or apes are capable of learning is this social way and passing
    on a culture is an interesting question. I don't rule it out based on
    Pirsig's quote because I don't see him as speaking ex cathedra on this
    matter since he is presumably not an expert in zoology. I suspect the
    biological requirements for developing social patterns depends in part on
    "the mammalian brain" which includes a capacity for emotions which I'm sure
    that dog's have.

    dmb says:
    But Steve, my problem is that youwrote it right after reading Pirsig's
    comments on the matter...

    >> "'Societies' is used figuratively here as a more colorful word meaning
    >> 'groups.' If I had known it would be taken literally as evidence that
    >> cells belong in the social level I would not have used it. Maybe in a
    >> future edition it can be struck out. One can also call ants and bees
    >> "social" insects, but for purposes of precision in the MOQ social
    >> patterns should be defined as HUMAN and subjective." (emphasis added)

    dmb says:
    Clearly, Pirsig is saying that the MOQ's 3rd level is a human thing. Steve,
    you then suggest that the social level in animals is an open question. NO.
    NO. NO its not! Pirsig doesn't own the world of ideas and he's not a
    biological scientist, but he still gets to define his own terms and he's
    telling us quite flatly that including animals in this category is a
    mistake. Sure, you softened and qualified Johnny's mistake to some extent,
    but I think its only fair to accept what the author says about his own
    creation. The third level applies only to humans. Period. I bring this up
    because it reminds me so much of our original dispute. This kind of thing is
    a show stopper. You still insist that Lila can percieve intellectual quality
    in spite of the author's assertions...

    Pirsig in the first pages of chapter 17:
    "He wondered what it was about himself that she (Lila) couldn't see when he
    was getting angry. Just now at the cafe she'd gone on for fifteen minutes
    about what great people they were and she never saw it coming. She missed
    the whole point of everything. She's after Quality, like everybody else, but
    she defines it entirely in biological terms. She doesn't see intellectual
    quality at all. Its outside her range. She doesn't even see social quality."
    In chapter 13 Pirsig writes:
    "Does Lila have Quality? Biologically she does, socially she doesn't.
    Obviously! Evolutionary morality just splits that whole question open like a
    watermelon. .. Biologicall she's fine, socially she's pretty far down the

    dmb says:
    This is the kind of contradiction that just kills me. The author says she
    doesn't and yet you imagine he actually thinks that she does. I think that's
    irrational and illogical and I'm horrified at the lack of outrage. In fact,
    I find it difficult to express disapproval in a way that is both honest and
    polite. I don't want to pretent that this kind of contradiction is
    respectable. Its a show stopper. If the most straigt-forward comments can be
    interpreted to mean their opposite and the most basic requirements of logic
    and rationality aren't met, then we can't really talk about anything.

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