Re: MD MOQ and idealism

From: Scott R (
Date: Tue Oct 07 2003 - 03:41:01 BST

  • Next message: Mati Palm-Leis: "RE: MD Intellectual level - New letter from Pirsig"


    > [Scott prev:]
    > In any case, your reply doesn't answer my question. That which produces
    > ideas has to be more than just Good. In conventional language our words
    > for it are "intellect", "reason", and "thinking". Not "value", "quality"
    > "good".
    > [Paul:]
    > Reason creates value? Thinking creates value? Is this your argument?

    [Scott] No. Pirsig says that DQ creates ideas. I point out that words in
    English for "that which creates ideas" are "intellect", "reason", and
    "thinking", not "value", "quality" or "good". So that would mean that DQ is
    also Dynamic Intellect, Dynamic Reason, or Dynamic Thinking, when speaking
    of "that which creates ideas". I don't see why it is a stretch to say that
    when we consider Quality as producing ideas that it is aptly named
    Intellect, and when we consider Intellect as producing value it is aptly
    named Quality.

    In reply to your later post on Plotinus's concept of Divine Intellect,
    Plotinus is thought of as merging Plato and Aristotle (and making it all
    mystical). So the Divine Intellect is related to Platonic Ideas and to
    Aristotle's Divine Intellect, which is to say that of which our intellect is
    a feeble reflection. In any event, all of these folks would say that that
    which creates is both Intellectual and Quality (Good). One might also note
    (I'm not sure if Plotinus actually said it, but some neo-Platonist did) that
    a Divine Idea is one that contains every other Idea (like the Jewel Net of

    > > [Paul prev:]
    > > Firstly, he says value is the preselection of what becomes
    > consciousness before it is possible to be thought about. It is not an
    > of value", it is value that is observation. Observation creates the
    > "observer" and the "observed".
    > [Scott prev:]I agree with this. But in the case of ideas, one has
    Thinking, creating
    > the thinker and the thought.
    > [Paul:]
    > I would argue that one has Quality, creating thought, and thought
    > creating the "thinker". There is no pre-existing "thinker" in the MOQ.

    Why allow the form for observation but not for thinking? Yes, there is no
    self-existent thinker, just as there is no self-existent observer, but in
    creating the thought one is also creating the thinker, just as in creating
    an object of perception one is also creating a perceiver. To privilege
    perception over thinking is why I accuse Pirsig of a nominalist bias.

    [Scott prev:] He assumed it from the beginning.

    > [Paul:]
    > I believe he demonstrated that value exists by showing what a world
    > without value would be like. He then demonstrated that value was not
    > contained in either subject or object. He then hypothesised that value
    > contained subject and object within it. He then identified value with
    > empirical experience.

    Yes, but in my statement that "he assumed it from the beginning", the "it"
    referred to labelling DQ as pre-intellectual. He gives no reason for doing
    so, just does, in the quote about Whitehead below.

    On a side note, I would prefer saying that value is between subject and
    object, not that it contains them. Actually, Pirsig says this at one point,
    but in the main he goes with the "contained".

    > Out of interest, do you accept the MOQ premise that value is the primary
    > empirical reality, that everything is primarily an assertion of value?

    No. Empirically there are four primary realities: perceiving, feeling,
    thinking, and willing, all of which come in S/O form. (We are naively
    dualists). The idea that everything is primarily an assertion of value is
    not an empirical given. It is a deduction, as you outline above. I agree
    with it, however. But based on those four primary realities one can also
    deduce that everything is primarily an assertion, that is, a semiotic act.

    On another side note, in the hot stove example, Pirsig refers to a "dim
    apprehension" of low Quality that gets us off the stove. I have never sat on
    a stove, but I have touched very hot things. I recall two things from that
    experience: my hand jerking away, and feeling pain. No "dim apprehension".
    This is another reason I think jumping off hot stoves should be labelled as
    SQ and not DQ. This is not to say there aren't any dim apprehensions, but I
    see the hot stove example as disingenuous, the way Pirsig uses it.

    > [Scott prev:]
    > The brujo story produced the idea of the initial split into DQ and SQ. So
    far so good. But in the next
    > paragraph is:
    > "When A. N. Whitehead wrote that "mankind is driven forward by dim
    > apprehensions of things too obscure for existing language", he was
    > writing about Dynamic Quality. Dynamic Quality is the pre-intellectual
    > edge of reality, the source of all things, the completely simple and
    > new."
    > My question is where did the "pre-intellectual" come from?
    > [Paul:]
    > It is the starting point, so logically speaking, it doesn't come from
    > anywhere.

    [Scott:] How did Pirsig determine that this starting point is
    pre-intellectual, especially given this (Whitehead's) context? You and
    Pirsig seem to be simply assuming that if something is a starting point it
    cannot be intellectual. This, of course, is what I am contesting.

    > [Scott prev:]
    > It appears to be related to the phrase "too obscure for existing
    language." But to have a
    > dim apprehension of something that escapes existing language means that
    > is thinking dynamically. One has an intimation from Intellect. One has a
    > non-verbalized idea and one will either change the language to verbalize
    > it or come to the conclusion that it is beyond all language. So why does
    > call this "pre-intellectual"?
    > [Paul:]
    > Because it is not referring to "non-verbalized ideas" as you have
    > assumed, it is referring to value, which is beyond thought.

    Why assume that value is beyond thought? I offer as an alternative that
    value manifests as thought (and in other ways), and it can only do so if it
    is potential thought. (This is another reason to dust off the pre-SOM
    philosophers: their very fruitful act/potential distinction, which
    Heisenberg notes may be the way to go to interpret quantum physics.)

    > "The Dynamic reality that goes beyond words is the constant focus of Zen
    > teaching. Because of their habituation to a world of words, philosophers
    > do not often understand Zen. When philosophers have trouble
    > understanding the distinction between static and Dynamic Quality it can
    > be because they are trying to include and subordinate all Quality to
    > thought patterns. The distinction between static and Dynamic quality is
    > intended to block this." [letter from Robert Pirsig to Anthony McWatt,
    > quoted in "Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality"]

    Nishida and Coleridge are two philosophers that distinguish between static
    and Dynamic just fine (and Nishida was well-versed in Zen, being a
    practioner), and do not fall into the error of ignoring that the intellect
    too is both static and dynamic, that the self both exists and does not
    exist, etc.

    > [Scott:]
    > In my view because of a nominalist prejudice:
    > he is convinced that all language and thinking is "flatus voci", all SQ,
    > always merely tacked on to a really real non-linguistic, non-thinking,
    > pre-existing universe of things and events.
    > [Paul:]
    > In my view, it is because, in the MOQ, value is reality. Things, events,
    > language and thought are reducible to assertions of value

    But thinking is NOT reducible to anything. Neither is language in action (as
    opposed to completed sentences).

     and are
    > therefore really real. Problems occur when you try and reduce things to
    > words and thoughts, or thoughts and words to things.

    In my view, problems occur, namely dualism, by not recognizing things as
    words and thoughts, since it is impossible to reduce thinking to
    non-thinking things in motion, no matter how much value those things have.

    - Scott

    MOQ.ORG -
    Mail Archives:
    Aug '98 - Oct '02 -
    Nov '02 Onward -
    MD Queries -

    To unsubscribe from moq_discuss follow the instructions at:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Tue Oct 07 2003 - 03:48:51 BST