Re: MD Intellectual level - New letter from Pirsig

Date: Thu Oct 02 2003 - 21:26:16 BST

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    David and such,

    David said:
    What you seem to be saying is that there is this concept called quality, that is experienced by human beings but is impossible to define. I buy this much. Heidegger calls it Being, or later on Being under erasure. But then there seems to be a gang of you that says there is human being or thinking or whatever that is different from Quality. This is a trap. Heidegger tries not to fall into this trap, so does Pirsig, but a few people at this site seem to be embracing it. Quality is a holistic concept. You cannot say quality here, man there, or quality there, thinking here. Quality is never absent.

    I agree with David here. As the pragmatist sees it, what we call the "ego" or "I" or "personhood" is a practical matter, not a metaphysical one. What Pirsig helps us see is that static patterns are non-differentiated, that what Quineans refer to as our web of beliefs and desires is a gigantic web that stretches over all humans. The differentiation occurs when we find it practically useful to differentiate between that biological person "Bob" and biological person "Tom", just as we find it very useful to differentiate between ourselves and tigers. And after we make this practical distinction, we find that this physical distinction parralells some others: part of the social and intellectual patterns we refer to as "Christianity" don't overlap from Bob to Tom. Tom doesn't "have" or "participate" in the Christianity patterns.

    The reason this all becomes very difficult to conceptualize holistically is that, as David alludes to, I have know idea what it is to think without distinctions. That's what thinking does. The trap is to take our distinctions as metaphysical.


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