Re: MD myths and symbols

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Sun Aug 10 2003 - 14:04:31 BST

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    Scott, Paul, All

    > > Those who believe intellect (logos, reason, thinking, the manipulation
    > > of symbols) suddenly emerged in ancient Greece may want to reconsider.
    > For the record, what I have been saying is not that the intellect
    > suddenly emerged around 500 BC, but that that is the time when intellect
    > (to be more precise I should say intellectual creativity) moved from
    > appearing to come from the outside (i.e. from the gods, and hence as
    > reinforcing social morals) to appearing to come from the inside (i.e.,
    > as being one's own activity), and hence producing the S/O divide, and
    > the idea of individual autonomy, and the possibility of questioning
    > social morals. Hence, until this happened there was no real distinction
    > between the social and intellectual levels.

    I think :-) perhaps there's a problem in these discussions between the
    terms intellect, a pattern referring to an action, and the MOQ's
    intellectual level, a pattern referring to fixed hierarchy. Pirsig
    suggests as much:

    Intellect: "Intellect is simply thinking." LC, 95.

    Intellectual Level: "For purposes of MOQ precision, let's say that the
    intellectual level is the same as mind." LC, 25.

    Note the first definition refers to a process--thinking while the
    second refers to a fixed entity--mind.
    If this is accurate, then we can agree that intellect as thinking (manipulation
    of symbols) began with early man, but that the intellectual level as the mind
    of modern Western man emerged, as you say, around 500 BC.

    > For evidence (to respond to Paul's objection), see the work of Julian
    > Jaynes, Owen Barfield, Bruno Snell, and no doubt many others. Or compare
    > Homer to Plato, or the pre-Upanishadic Vedas to the Upanishads.

    Like Paul I'm wary of those who purport to know how and what people
    thought thousands of years ago. Civilizations like Egypt were not built
    by numbskulls. But that logic was first codified by Aristotle I've no
    doubt. That magnificent work sparked a sea change in man's thinking,
    creating the initial stage of the intellectual level which was later
    solidified by the Galileo and Kepler who introduced empiric-analytic
    science by insisting on measurable experiments.

    Be that as it may, do you also see a distinction between intellect and
    the intellectual level as presented in the MOQ?


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