Re: MD Intellectual level - New letter from Pirsig

From: Wim Nusselder (
Date: Thu Oct 09 2003 - 22:41:06 BST

  • Next message: "RE: MD MOQ and idealism"

    Dear Bo,

    You indeed got me wrong again 9 Oct 2003 09:54:05 +0200:
    '[the intellectual level] Not a value??? This strongly indicates a detached
    mind-intellect where the rest of experience exist as symbols, thoughts or
    ideas - which is old SOM.'

    I have no idea what you mean with 'a detached mind-intellect where the rest
    of experience exists as symbols, thoughts or ideas'. Mind = intellectual
    level, according to Pirsig (in 'Lila's Child') and I see nothing wrong with
    that. Detaching that from 'the rest of experience' and saying that that rest
    of experience consists of symbols, thoughts and/or ideas seems very strange
    to me. If the mind is anything it is symbols/thoughts/ideas (that stand for
    the rest of experience AND for parts of itself, when it symbolizes/thinks
    about/forms ideas about symbols/thoughts/ideas).
    So that can't have been what I meant.

    I wrote 'The intellectual level ... is not a value but the sum total of the
    patterns of value of a specific type'.

    Would that be more acceptable to you if you read 'The intellectual level ...
    is not A value but the sum total of the PATTERNS OF value of a specific

    The intellectual level definitely IS value (just like the whole rest of
    experience). I had problems with limiting it to just A value in your
    definition of the intellectual level as 'the value of seeing
    symbol-manipulation as different from the rest of experience'.

    You continue with:
    'people of old used language [manipulated symbols] without "knowing" that
    words are symbols standing for
    something else. Thus what heralded Intellect was the DISCOVERY of this
    schism. ... And Jaynes' bi-cameral theory is a very good description of how
    this inside-out-turn happened.'

    I agree that before say the 3rd century BC people didn't know that they were
    manipulating symbols, that using words didn't imply direct contact with,
    power over and participation in reality. This bi-cameral mind theory may
    (from what I read on this list) very well be a good description of how these
    people's minds 'worked'.
    I agree that thinking about thinking, knowing that the 'something else' that
    words symbolize differs from the symbols, knowing your own thoughts from
    those of others (or from those of Gods), did mean a huge change.

    But ... I still disagree that this change was THE change from social
    patterns of value to intellectual patterns of value. Even before the 3rd
    century BC the 'standing for' relation in the patterns of value was there,
    even if people didn't know it for what it was. They definitely did
    experience something different when running into a tiger, when running into
    a human being 'dancing' a tiger and when hearing someone else shrieking: 'A
    The patterns of value maintained by copying (symbolic) rationales (e.g.
    associating a strong tiger with a healthy people and therefore wanting to be
    like a tiger) WITHOUT knowing a symbol for a symbol were not essentially
    different from the patterns of value maitained by copying rationales WITH
    the knowledge that they were 'only' manipulating symbols.

    How can 'experience that a symbol is different from and YET LIKE SOME OTHER
    EXPERIENCE' evade your understanding? 'Is different from and yet like' is
    just a redescription of 'stands for', the element you liked in 'it is the
    "standing for" relationship that characterizes 4th level experience'.

    With friendly greetings,


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