RE: MD myths and symbols

From: Paul Turner (
Date: Tue Aug 12 2003 - 14:29:08 BST

  • Next message: Paul Turner: "RE: MD Value of thinking"

    Hi Platt

    OK. The intellectual level is the idea level as seen through our
    cultural "glasses." Thus, the ideas presented in the MOQ are similarly
    "colored" or "distorted" by our socio-intellectual patterns, i.e., our
    mythos. There's really no such thing as a discrete intellectual level.
    Have I got your interpretation right?

    No, I think the intellectual level is completely discrete in that there
    are no "ideas" or "symbols" at the social level. However, culture in the
    MOQ is social patterns plus intellectual patterns. I think the
    relationship between social and intellectual experience accounts for the
    way some intellectual patterns are "legal" and some ideas are "illegal"
    in a particular culture and why Pirsig can define insanity as an
    intellectual pattern. A thinking person is also a social entity and is
    subject to social forces and evaluations which define the common sense,
    or mythos of a particular culture. This quote below is extremely
    important to understand the relationship between society and intellect:

    "It is important for an understanding of the MOQ to see that although
    'common sense' dictates that inorganic nature came first, actually
    'common sense' which is A SET OF IDEAS, has to come first. This 'common
    sense' is arrived at through a web of SOCIALLY APPROVED EVALUATIONS of
    various alternatives. The key term here is 'evaluation', i.e. quality
    decisions. The fundamental reality is not the common sense or the
    objects and laws approved of by common sense but the approval itself and
    the quality that leads to it."
    Lila's Child Note 97

    If ideas are intellectual patterns, then the beginning of the
    intellectual level occurred simultaneously with the first idea which
    emerged long before the Greeks wouldn't you say?

    I would speculate that this was the case, but my definition of intellect
    is not dependent on history. Rather, I would say that history is
    dependent on the definition of intellect.

    I'll buy that. It becomes less clear, however, if you believe, as I
    think Pirsig does, that intellectual patterns are patterns of value.
    Then you would have to say she participates in intellectual values
    (thinking, manipulation of symbols, etc.), but her values at that level
    are low compared to her values at the biological level.

    I would completely agree that Pirsig does think that patterns are
    patterns of value, (it is the central idea of static quality) but he
    also says that one doesn't always see that, especially in a culture
    which can't believe that values are a primary experience.

    I think people tend to see biological quality easily, the quality of
    sensation. Social quality was perhaps taught up to the Victorian era and
    may have been more readily perceived than it is today. I think
    intellectual quality is seen at the edges of the conceptually known, or
    at the point of "stuckness" and isn't such a common sense experience.
    When your culture educates you into thinking that it has done all the
    creative thinking for you, you may not feel the need to pursue the
    intellectually demanding work described by Pirsig in SODV in the passage
    I posted recently. Thus I think we can say that whilst Lila experiences
    intellectual patterns of value, she doesn't associate "the good" with
    thinking, but rather with physical bodily sensation.
    I sometimes picture the MOQ as a grid having a vertical scale, the
    moral hierarchy, intersected at each level by a horizontal line, a
    scale of value from 1 (low) to 10 (high). Lila, for example, would be a
    1 at the intellectual level, a 3 at the social, an 8 at the biological
    and a 10 at the inorganic. Rigel would be 5-8-3-10. Phaedrus 9-3-4-10.
    Of course, these assignments on my part will be different than yours or
    others due to different life experiences. :-)

    I like the way you look for practical ways to apply the MOQ to everyday
    life. This is something Squonk urges and I think that without this kind
    of effort, the MOQ could become an intellectual gym session. I'd like to
    spend more time developing the moral application of the MOQ, but we seem
    to be stuck on the definition stage, myself included.


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