RE: MD MOQ and idealism

From: Paul Turner (
Date: Wed Oct 08 2003 - 12:15:57 BST

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    3 Oct. You commented:
    > I agree with Dan, this is a key point in Pirsig's thought - explained
    > in detail in ZMM but not so much in Lila which concentrates on the
    > application of the MOQ's evolutionary model to an interpretation of
    > history. Personally, it was when I considered the relationship between
    > idealism and the MOQ that Pirsig's ideas really hit home. I'm not sure
    > how clearly I can explain my understanding but I'll give it a go.
    Oxford's Advanced: "Idealism ...system of thought in which ideas
    are believed to be the only real things...

    This is metaphysical idealism

    ...of which we can know

    This is epistemological idealism

    The opposite is realism or materialism

    Pretty much, although this is an over-generalisation.

    ...and this is another
    facet of the subject/object aggregate. Do we agree on that?

    We can agree that an idealist metaphysics says reality is all in the
    subject and objects aren't real and a materialist metaphysics says
    reality is all in the object and subjects aren't real. In Pirsig's
    recent words...

    "In a scientific materialist mirror there is no such thing as intellect
    since it has no mass or energy that can be objectively measured. From a
    philosophic idealist viewpoint there is nothing but intellect."

    [Bo quotes Paul:]
    > I think the relationship between the MOQ and idealism is summed up in
    > the statement Dan quoted from Lila's Child
    > "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!" [Lila's Child p.202]

    [Bo continues:]
    In ZMM Phaedrus rejects BOTH idealism and materialism.

    Agreed, in that he concludes that quality, which he then equates with
    reality, is not all in the mind and is not all in matter.

    method by which he tackles materialism is by showing that everything
    is idealist (from the idealist/materialist premises that is). Then he
    rejects idealism by showing that the idealist/materialist divide
    collapses faced with QUALITY.

    He rejects idealism by collapsing the mutually exclusive divide into
    Quality which contains subject and object, idealism and materialism, in
    a larger context. In Lila's Child, Pirsig refers to the Hindu parable
    where Buddha invites several blind men to touch a different part of an
    elephant before asking them what an elephant is. Each blind man argues
    unto exchanging blows with the others because of the different
    experience they had, to which the Buddha replies -

    O how they cling and wrangle, some who claim
    For preacher and monk the honored name!
    For, quarreling, each to his view they cling.
    Such folk see only one side of a thing.

    Thus the subjective side (ideas) is as invalid as the objective one and
    this is why I am so disappointed by the said annotation.

    The subjective side is not invalid, it is valid but incomplete.

    What has
    "ideas" to do in a reality he has rid of the SOM? Why re-introduce the
    very same idealism he had rejected in ZMM? Quality produces the
    idea/non-idea aggregate said in ZMM ..and that is a most
    elegant solution.

    Idealism, or subjectivity, has been "rejected" by being contained within
    a larger context.

    "...the Metaphysics of Quality provides a larger framework in which to
    integrate subjectivity and objectivity. Subjectivity and objectivity are
    not separate universes that have no connection to each other. They are
    instead separate stages of a single evolutionary process called value."

    "In a materialist system mind has no reality because it is not material.
    In an idealist system matter has no reality because it is just an idea.
    The acceptance of one meant the rejection of the other. In the MOQ, both
    mind and matter are levels of value. Materialist explanations and
    idealist explanations can coexist because they are descriptions of
    coexisting levels of a larger reality." [Lila's Child p.531]

    The postulate of Quality coming first I fully accept, but within this
    context the first static "product" is inorganic value ...

    Within the MOQ intellectual framework, that is correct. The highest
    quality intellectual pattern says that inorganic nature comes first.

    ..and so on
    upwards until - as ZMM argues - Quality creates the S/O aggregate
    (subject and objects it says there) which - seen in the light of the
    MOQ - becomes its intellectual level.

    No, this is your reading, which you know I don't accept. I would
    rephrase your statement to say that:

    Quality creates the S/O aggregate which - seen in the light of the
    MOQ - becomes static quality.

    "In the past Phaedrus' own radical bias caused him to think of Dynamic
    Quality alone and neglect static patterns of quality...But now he was
    beginning to see that this radical bias had weakened his own case...He
    saw that much can be learned about Dynamic Quality by studying what it
    is not rather than futilely trying to define what it is." [Lila p.139]

    Finally - inside the intellectual reality (SOM)

    This begs the question, your equation of "intellectual reality (SOM)" is
    your assumption.

    - Phaedrus conceives of
    the Quality Idea ("idea" because intellect only recognises the
    idea/non-idea dichotomy) but it grew too big for intellect and brought
    P. outside the intellectual myth - into insanity.

    Phaedrus conceives of Quality as preintellectual undifferentiated

    "The present is our only reality. The tree that you are aware of
    intellectually, because of that small time lag, is always in the past
    and therefore is always unreal. ANY intellectually conceived object is
    ALWAYS in the past and therefore UNREAL. Reality is always the moment of
    vision BEFORE the intellectualization takes place. THERE IS NO OTHER
    REALITY. This preintellectual reality is what Phædrus felt he had
    properly identified as Quality. Since all intellectually identifiable
    things must emerge FROM this preintellectual reality, Quality is the
    PARENT, the SOURCE of all subjects and objects." [ZMM p.247, My CAPS
    replace italics]

    The pursuit of which brought him out of static differentiated reality -
    into mystic knowledge, easily confused with insanity in the west.

    Also, it seems to me there is little difference between saying..

    "any INTELLECTUALLY CONCEIVED OBJECT is always in the past and therefore
    unreal. Reality [Quality] is always the moment of vision before the
    intellectualization takes place"


    "The MOQ says that Quality comes first, which produces IDEAS, WHICH

    This is the kernel of our difference so please stick to it.

    Yes sir! :-)


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