Re: MD Dealing with S/O

From: Dan Glover (
Date: Thu Oct 02 2003 - 20:31:52 BST

  • Next message: Joe: "Re: MD Intellectual level - New letter from Pirsig"

    Hello everyone

    >Subject: Re: MD Dealing with S/O
    >Date: Thu, 2 Oct 2003 09:38:11 +0200
    >Hi Dan
    >30 Sep. you wrote:
    >BO prev:
    > > >But even if ZMM doesn't pertain directly to the MOQ, SOM does and it
    > > >postulates that thoughts belong to a subjective (mind) realm, while
    > > >that what thoughts are about belong to an objective realm. Thus when
    > > >Pirsig in LC goes on to define intellect as "mind" intellect no
    > > >longer remains the ability to divide the subject from the object, but
    > > >becomes subjectivity itself. And THAT is something else.
    > > From the narrow viewpoint of SOM, yes. But I think the MOQ offers a
    > > more expansive viewpoint. Of course intellect is subjective but it is
    > > not subjectivity itself. For example, in Robert Pirsig's hot stove
    > > experiment, he says the mystic will tend to jump off the stove faster
    > > than the intellectual. Intellectual patterns of value tend to take us
    > > farther away from reality instead of bringing us closer.
    >A very short version of my objection is that most people - Pirsig
    >included - tend to define intellect as the ABILITY to manipulate
    >symbols. I want it to be the value of the symbol/experience DIVIDE
    >itself. Can you see the connection to ZMM about "gravity sitting 'out
    >there' waiting for Newton to discover it"? Like P. of ZMM I claim that
    >there were no symbols (different from experience) until the intellectual
    >value CREATED this schism, while so many want to see symbols
    >"sitting out there" waiting for someone to start manipulating them.

    Hi Bo

    I remember you once brought up Helen Keller as an example of how the
    intellectual level operates. Recently I happened across a biography of Ms.
    Keller and enjoyed reading it very much. In it, she mentioned how she had a
    sudden insight when her teacher ran water over one hand while spelling
    "water" in the other. Until that moment, Ms. Keller didn't understand how to
    collect and manipulate symbols. I think you could say at that moment, she
    suddenly understood subject and object metaphysics. But it was her intellect
    that allowed that understanding, not subject object metaphysics itself. So I
    don't see how SOM can be the intellect in this case.

    > > > > "For purposes of MOQ precision, let's say that the intellectual
    > > > > level is the same as mind. It is the collection and manipulation
    > > > > of symbols, created in the brain, that stand for patterns of
    > > > > experience."
    > > >According to this intellect's value is "collection and manipulation
    > > >of symbols ...etc." consequently that which the symbols "stand for" -
    > > >experience - are the levels below (intellect). Thus intellect becomes
    > > >excepted from experience - the subject observing objective reality
    > > >exactly as in SOM!!! As I see it (intellect) should be defined as
    > > >the symbols/experience divide itself (S/O); A new static value
    > > >...which it is in the MOQ!
    > > I think Mr. Pirsig answers this in many places in Lila's Child. I will
    > > quote two of them. Annotation #59: "All objects are in fact mental
    > > constructs based on experience. ... The existence of collective masses
    > > of electrons can be inferred from experience and there is every
    > > reason to think they exist independently of the mind."
    >Mental constructs .......every reason to think they exist independently
    >of the mind? I am not mocking, but think we get a little lost along this
    >line of reasoning. See below.
    >Annotation #67:
    > > "The MOQ says that Quality comes first, which produces ideas, which
    > > produce what we know as matter. The scientific community that has
    > > produced Complementarity almost invariably presumes that matter comes
    > > first and produces ideas. However, as if to further the confusion, the
    > > MOQ says that the idea that matter comes first is a high quality
    > > idea!"
    >Pirsig/MOQ is right in saying that Quality comes first (excepted from
    >the "idea" realm. No wonder ideas/not ideas is SOM!!) and in that
    >QUALITY context inorganic value is the first static fallout and intellect
    >(for the time being) the last. After this inside-out-turn, re-introducing
    >the ideas, saying that ideas is the first offshoot and that intellect is
    >idea realm where the rest is created - mentally - makes it a Moebus
    >Ring of ideas. I can't for the life of me understand Pirsig doing this.

    I'm not sure how the integrity of the MOQ as RMP envisions it can be
    maintained without coming to an understanding with annotation #67. It ties
    in with so much of his thinking that rejecting it amounts to rejecting the
    MOQ. We are of course free to develop our own metaphysics but like Mr.
    Pirsig says, it should be named something else to prevent any confusion.

    > > It seems to me that when you define intellect as the divide between
    > > symbols/experience itself that you're presuming (as the scientific
    > > community that produced Complementarity) that the existence of an
    > > object (which is presumed from experience) is indeed independent of
    > > mind, and that intellect is the dividing point.
    >Intellect - as the S/O divide - is a mere static level, not SOM's "as it
    >really is" - so the independence of matter from mind is of no
    >significance. Call it an illusion, but it has given us the modern world.
    >A static levels are "illusory" at the bottom. Only Quality=Reality!!!

    Static levels are Quality so if they are illusionary then so is reality. And
    if Quality=Reality then Quality is illusionary as well.

    > > I don't think this is
    > > what Mr. Pirsig is saying. The existence of an object independent of
    > > mind is a high quality idea and while SOM presumes this, the MOQ
    > > states that this may be so and this may be not necessarily be so. The
    > > MOQ gives us a more expanded viewpoint.
    >We seem to agree! The difference is that I consider the S/O of such
    >overwhelming quality that it deserves all of intellect. The MOQ is some
    >rebel pattern not at home here.

    Again, I don't think the integrity of the MOQ as Robert Pirisig envisions it
    can be maintained by making the MOQ itself some sort of rebel pattern.

    > > I too enjoyed Julian Jaynes' The Origin of Consciousness in the
    > > Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, and have no problem with it. I think
    > > what Jaynes was pointing out was the possibility that our ancestors
    > > actually heard, in a quite literal fashion, the voices of the gods,
    > > and this was due to in part to a biological difference in their brains
    > > compared to ours.
    >Right, but you see the vocabulary we use - HAVE to use - from
    >intellect's p.o.v.: "Illusions", "hallucinations", "schizophrenic" ...etc.
    >(you don't!) while our ancestors knew of no such S/O divide (ref. my
    >staring point).

    I don't use words like "illusions, hallucinations, schizophrenia" since
    these are terms for what I take to be biological diseases of an abnormal
    brain. If (in ancient times) the brain was biologically different than now,
    such intellectual patterns of value would have been considered normal and
    not abnormal at all. I believe that was Jaynes' point, not that humanity
    suffered from collective hallucinations although it's the easiest thing in
    the world to think they did. This reminds me of the passage in ZMM where
    Chris asks his father if he was really insane and his father answers, no.

    > > However, the book was written some 30 years ago,
    > > before many of the recent discoveries that geneticists have made.
    > > Earlier this year I read in several of the scientific journals I
    > > subscribe to about the discovery of a language gene which according to
    > > researchers evolved some 50,000 to 75,000 years ago and quickly swept
    > > through the population of humans alive at that time. There were also
    > > articles concerning a related evolutionary bottleneck possibly tied to
    > > a super-volcano eruption in Indochina (Toba) in the same time range.
    > > So if we tie language to the birth of intellect, we may have to go
    > > considerably farther back in time than does Jaynes. I think the MOQ
    > > would say that there are inorganic, biological, social, and
    > > intellectual aspects to language and these aspects are continually
    > > evolving towards something better.
    >Interesting, but as you see from Pirsig's letter he posits the birth of the
    >intellectual level to the said "Homeric" period. You seem to create a
    >Metaphysics of Language (MOL) and why not? The genius of Pirsig is
    >the "something" Dynamic/Static, biological ...etc. BUT
    >QUALITY IS THE BEST "something".

    Actually I thought it was you who wrote the birth of language equals the
    birth of intellect. If not, then please disregard this as my mistake.

    Thank you for your reply,


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