Re: MD Pirsig and Peirce

From: David MOREY (
Date: Sat Aug 30 2003 - 21:22:21 BST

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    Hi Guys

    Can a critical realist join this debate?
    Now being a critical realist I have read all that Rorty stuff
    although I am no physicalist like Rorty. So I get all that stuff
    about the human and language and creative basis of our knowledge.
    Yeah, we can't mirror nature because there is no way of stepping outside
    of our language games and saying yes it corresponds. However I'm still a bit
    of a realist. From my studies of the history of science I feel we some how
    to include 'nature' or 'Being' in our language games. An experiment sets up
    a question
    and we ask nature to answer yes or no and then off we go with the 'results'.
    It is odd stuff because nature does not talk English. However, we insist on
    nature these questions. That's how experiments work. The answer is something
    Pirsig's comments about the guy sitting on the hot stove. We all jump off
    and that's
    an answer to the question is it hot? if we pose that qustion before sitting
    on the stove.
    All experiment of course ends with a human experience. Schrodinger's cat in
    the box
    experiment closes when a human being opens the box and gets the cat to purr
    and confirm
    it is alive. Physicists, of course, get very screwed up about the need for a
    human to open the
    box to find out which way dynamic quality has taken the quantum experiment.
    The results
    all always dependent on the language based questions we construct, and
    somehow, mysteriously,
    nature plays a role in our language games. However, no corresopondence,
    becuase it all
    depends on the questions you ask. Different questions, different world.


    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "David Buchanan" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Saturday, August 30, 2003 8:37 PM
    Subject: RE: MD Pirsig and Peirce

    > Matt, Paul and all pragmatic MOQers:
    > Matt said:
    > I'll rehearse briefly the historical dialectic that led to this. (I
    > shouldn't have to warn, but I will in case there is any confusion. The
    > story I'm about to tell is from the pragmatist's eyes...
    > Now, you'll notice that I've muddied the historical waters by making
    > Descartes, Locke, Kant, and Hegel talk about language. The reason I did
    > this was because, in the move against representationalism, it isn't
    > necessary that we talk about language as opposed to ideas and mind.
    > Therefore, it is very easy to reconstruct their arguments to make it look
    > like they were talking about language ...
    > Paul replied:
    > You're right, you shouldn't have to warn anyone before saying anything.
    > My comments about "pragmatist misrepresentation" were a bit harsh given
    > the length of time you have been around on this forum and the lengths
    > you have gone to in explaining your approach to Pirsig. I was just being
    > antagonistic, which doesn't really help debate.
    > dmb says:
    > I disagree and wish you had warned me long ago. The failure to make clear
    > that your story is told through pragmatic eyes has caused me a great deal
    > confusion. I mean, it seems clear to me now that this practice constitutes
    > kind of backward projection from a 20th century perspective and that this
    > practice is not without controversy. Some people still believe the best
    > interpretation accurately reflects the author's intended meaning.
    > Fortunately, I think something has finally clicked for me. I'm starting to
    > see what the strange practices and jargon are all about. This things have
    > unnecessarily locked me out of the conversation for many moons, now I
    > I see it and it seems even more clear that JARGON was the only problem....
    > Matt said:
    > ... If language is a mirror, then getting better knowledge amounts to
    > better and better representations of the object of inquiry, to mirror the
    > world so that eventually our language will be transparent to the world.
    > This means that the final judge and jury of the truth of a proposition is
    > Nature, the World, something "out there" that is not us. ...
    > dmb says:
    > Now I can see that you've only been talking about subject/object
    > metaphysics. That's what appearance and reality are. Your discussion of
    > correspondence theroies are discussions of objectivity, where there can
    > be a single explanation of things. Nature and the world is objective
    > reality, no? The truth tribunal is objectivity. I mean, the pragmatists
    > a different set of terms and those terms express a slightly different
    > characterization of the problem, but surely it is the same problem, no?
    > kills me. Its like were all here to discuss Pirsig's work and discuss in
    > Pirsig's terms, but you insist on using some other currency with ever
    > mentioning the exchange rate. Maybe I should have noticed this long ago
    > its all my fault, but you must admit that I've been asking to drop the
    > strange jargon for quite a while and its no accident that a wall has come
    > down the moment you began express the ideas behind them. I'm grateful for
    > your recent efforts and plan to respond further, but I sure wish you'd
    > it long ago. Now we can BEGIN to talk.
    > Later,
    > dmb
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