Re: MD myths and symbols

From: Scott R (
Date: Sun Aug 10 2003 - 16:34:35 BST

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    > 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
    > of symbols) began with early man, but that the intellectual level as the
    > of modern Western man emerged, as you say, around 500 BC.

    I still have trouble with it, in particular the word "manipulation". Who (or
    what) was doing the manipulating?, and do we need to distinguish between
    types of manipulation? If I see a stop sign, I stop my car. Is that a social
    act or an intellectual act, or both? Is that manipulating a symbol or just
    reacting to it? If I (some 100 years or so ago) figure out that accidents
    can be reduced if society puts up easily recognized signs for drivers to
    stop at intersections, have I just created a social pattern or an
    intellectual pattern?

    I think that my point is that Pirsig's vocabulary, including his attempts to
    clarify in LC just do not work to puzzle out these questions. For purposes
    of an "Inquiry into Morals" there is no real problem: as he says, we are all
    familiar with social/intellectual conflicts and for that, he just has to say
    "intellectual level" and we are ok. We only get into problems when we start
    wondering just what the intellect is (or -- one of Bo's points, I believe --
    if we can even ask this except from a SOM point of view.)

    > > 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.

    Your wariness is, so it seems to me, one-sided. What we shouldn't overlook
    is that the entire picture of early civilizations that we are taught was
    built up by SOM-endrenched archeologists, anthropologists, linguists, etc.
    That is, they assume that once the brain evolved to its current state (what,
    some 100,000 years ago or so?) that from that point on, all experience came
    in S/O form, and since they were also by and large materialists, they
    assumed that the gods and myths were the product of fancy.

    If we drop those SOM assumptions, then we can agree with the Egyptians that
    their civilization was built by their gods, and that their gods weren't
    numbskulls. Now from our point of view, "their gods" has to be
    reinterpreted, to be something more like Quality thinking for them, as
    Quality thinks for the biological world. (In fact it is an open question in
    my mind about our own thinking: is it me thinking or is it Quality thinking
    through me (distorted by existing patterns)?) But in any case, the main
    problem with accepting the Barfield/Jaynes point of view is our SOM

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

    I see a distinction between intellectual products (static patterns of value)
    and intellectual activity as being the important one to maintain. With this
    distinction it is no difficulty to see that there were intellectual products
    as far back as their are records. The issue is the their source, namely, who
    or what was doing the intellectual activity that produced them. I don't see
    Pirsig's vocabulary as providing the tools to work this out, unless we just
    say "Quality does everything". Which may be in some sense true, but not very

    - Scott

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