Re: MD Pirsig and Peirce

From: Scott R (
Date: Sun Aug 17 2003 - 04:33:00 BST

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    > > so further work does
    > > need to be done, and that is to work out how the reverse is also >true,
    which leads to Coleridge's Law of Polarity: although there is >only one
    Power (that is, monism), it always manifests in two forces >(which he calls
    free life and confining form, or DQ and SQ) which >*cannot be separated*.
    > Each force exists only because of the other, >even though they are
    antagonistic toward each other. So subject is >totally dependent on object
    and object is totally dependent on >subject, and so it is not idealism.
    > I agree with all this, but to me it is re-inventing the wheel?
    > > Assuming you except the above that Barfield and Coleridge are not
    > > idealists, then...
    > I except (accept?) whatever, but my point is that the Barfield and
    > Cooleridge works are the same as what led P, to the MOQ. But as
    > neither reached any MOQ-like solutions what is the point?

    [yes, accept.] They did reach MOQ-like solutions.

    [Barfield, What Coleridge Thought, p. 183-4, published 1971]
    "And we should be drawing particular to the Triad:
    Differentia, Concordantia, and Contrarietas, mediating descent from the
    absolute to the relative. And we should no doubt be showing how this points
    us back to the whole long line of "Christian Neoplatonism" -- Pythagoras,
    Plato, Plotinus, Proclus and Porphyry, pseudo-Dionysius, Augustine, Scotus
    Erigena, the Florentine Academy and a host of others. It is a line with
    which Coleridge was, from an early age, well acquainted. But here [in an
    appendix on Bruno and Coleridge] we are limited to investigating the special
    importance he atached to Bruno.

    "For it seems to be especially in Bruno that he located the link between all
    that line and modern thought. Modern thought, that is to say, not as it is,
    but as it might and should be. Modern thought, as it has in fact developed,
    and particularly scientific thought, presupposes a "metaphysics of quantity"
    by contrast with the "metaphysics of quality", which the whole line
    presupposes and presents. Moreover, this metaphysic is inseparably bound up
    with a critique of logic. Aristotelian logic and all developments from it,
    being grounded on the understanding and the senses, inevitably end in
    admitting only quantities as "real". But, since it is a matter of immediate
    experience that the world consists of qualities as well as quantities,
    modern thought will remain exiled from knowledge, unless it develops its own
    metaphysic of qualities to supplement the other, which it has. And a
    metaphysic of qualities will be one which *starts* from qualities as the
    basic and constitutive principles of the universe, instead of from the
    mechanical and ultimately quantitative process, to which the understanding
    and the senses have succeeded in 'reducing' it."

    > > The way beyond is what they call Imagination. Goethe is perhaps >the
    best example of one who learned through Imagination rather >than through the
    S/O form. It appears to be something like "thinking >with" rather than
    "thinking about".
    > OK then a Metaphysics of Imagination where the last static
    > imagination is the S/O divide, but Quality is better!

    Well, no. Imagination, to Coleridge, is in contrast to the "understanding
    and the senses" referred to in the quote above. It is precisely not static,
    but (in MOQ terms) involves DQ. For Coleridge, the S/O divide is a case of
    the DQ/SQ divide, not a static idea. This is where Squonk is misguided in
    saying "there are no subjects and objects in the MOQ". If that were so, the
    MOQ would be useless, like theology would be if it left out sin. Where SOM
    goes wrong is not in saying "there are subjects and there are objects" but
    in not realizing that they are mutually dependent while being mutually
    opposite (polarity), that they are the "two forces of one power" as
    manifested in human minds at this time.

    Pirsig is also wrong in trying to simply relegate the difference between
    subject and object to different static levels. While experience does divide
    into subject and object, it is also the case that thinking (and knowing)
    reunite them to create a unity that is distinguishable from the original
    Quality. That is, the S/O divide creates unity-in-individuality. Or rather,
    it will, once we learn to transcend the S/O divide without eliminating it.

    > > > > What I
    > > > > (following Barfield following Coleridge following...Plato, with
    > > > > modifications) am suggesting is that some rarified version of
    > > > > those concepts and ideas creates the experience in the first
    > > > > place.
    > P. of ZMM arrived at the insight that Quality was the creator of the S/O
    > (subjects and objects as it says there). His insight started on Barfield-
    > like ideas I don't deny that, but B. did not suggest a new metaphysics.
    > If you use Barfield as underpinning the MOQ's premises, fine, but I
    > have the impression that you see him saying something deeper.

    As I said (I think to Paul), Coleridge provides the metaphysics that
    Barfield adopts and in some ways expands.

    I also think that Coleridge's metaphysics is better than Pirsig's, for
    precisely the things that are bothering you. Coleridge emphasizes the
    distinction between thinking and thoughts, for example. He would not have
    equated "static intellectual patterns of value" with "mind", or "thinking".
    Basically, Coleridge has a full philosophy of mind and nature (and which
    turn out to be the same) which Pirsig lacks, though the basics of it are
    there in the DQ/SQ split. My assumption is that, in writing Lila, Pirsig did
    not see the need to get to it, and in a way he was right. However, if one
    does want to get to it, the tools and terminology aren't there -- hence the
    debates here on the nature of the intellectual level, your distress at the
    annotating Pirsig, etc. The tools and terminology can be found in Coleridge.

    > > To go deeper into differentiating the static levels I think one does
    > > need Peirce's 3-fold sign (that's Charles Sanders Peirce, not >William,
    > Charles it is. I only have the Danish Biologist Jesper Hoffmeyer's
    > book so my translation back into English may not be correct, but
    > Peirce's metaphysics (Primary Sign Subject(=interpreter)/Object)
    > looks so like the early "trinity" version of the MOQ (Quality
    > Subject/Object) that I jumped sky-high when I first came across it
    > In the book it is not said how Peirce arrived at his SIGN insight, or if
    > he saw it in contrast to any SOM - maybe you know - but the likeness
    > between Sign and Quality is striking.

    Yes, his theory is triadic, and his discussion of Thirdness (of which the
    sign is his primary example) is anti-SOM. SOM assumes basic reality as
    composed of Seconds (e.g., object seen by subject), but he argues that the
    thirdness of the sign is irreducible to any combination of seconds, and
    since signs clearly exist as thirds, SOM must be false.

    > "Its a principle in physics that if a thing can't be distinguished
    > from anything else it does not exist. To this the MOQ adds a
    > second principle: if a thing has no value it isn't distinguished
    > from anything else. Then, putting the two together: A thing that
    > has no value does not exist."
    > A thing that signifies nothing does not exist! Sign=significance=Value!
    > Its plain! Sign is the creator of everything and Peirce might have
    > developed his 3-fold sign metaphysics the same way as P. did.
    > Dynamic (Primary) Sign/Static (Secondary) Sign and the known
    > hierarchy.
    > > As I said in my post about this, and as mentioned above,
    > > *if* it works out (in particular, has nothing essential been lost in
    > > discussing moral conflicts), *then* I see it as an advantage in that
    > > it removes the difficulty of defining intellect, etc.
    > If the above "development" of Peirce is made it fits perfectly with all
    > levels intact. And it helps immensely in understanding the 4th level.
    > What do you say?.

    Well, in the past I have tried to put forward the view that "everything is
    language", and that was based in part on Peirce. I see the levels as being
    distinct because of the way we cannot discern all three levels, in fact, we
    only see two in the biological level (lacking the interpretant), and one in
    the inorganic (Object only). However, it does not distinguish between the
    social and intellectual levels, and for that -- assuming one wants to go
    this route, and DMB raises valid objections -- I see the difference being DQ
    inside and not outside.

    - Scott

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