RE: MD Objectivity, Truth and the MOQ

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Fri Feb 20 2004 - 05:09:07 GMT

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    MK and all truth MOQers:

    Matt said:
    Simply put, I never disagreed with this statement. ("Pirsig's epistemology
    is significantly different from Rorty's.")
    Matt said:
    When Pirsig follows Dewey in saying that experience is reality, they are
    both saying the same thing as James, that the serpent of humanity coils over
    all. And all three are saying the same thing as Sellars ("all awareness is
    a linguistic affair"), just in a different idiom.

    dmb says:
    Hmmm. When we take the two statements together they add up to a
    contradiction. Matt "never disagreed" that they are different, he only
    asserts that they "are saying the same thing". Assuming that Rorty agrees
    with Dewey, James and Sellars, you ARE disagreeing that Rorty and Pirsig are
    different. (If Rorty does not agree, then your comments would suffer the
    flaw of being irrelevant and misleading.) Weasel words, once again. Mmmm.
    That's too harsh. How about if I just call you ""The great equivocator"?

    Matt said:
    DMB puts what I dislike perfectly: "[Pirsig] makes a distinction between
    reality and our intellectual descriptions of it, between the data and the
    language we use to talk about it." A metaphysician would read this as saying
    that our intellectual descriptions attempt to correspond to the reality
    hidden underneath (and this is exactly what I fear when I read "you are
    using a term that is more appropriate to actual observation" from Pirsig).

    dmb says:
    No, an anti-metaphysician such as yourself would read it that way. And they
    would be wrong. Repeatedly. If the MOQ has an "underneath" is it DQ. The MOQ
    has no foundation with which it corresponds. I mean, try to imagine a
    dynamic foundation - or a liquid connerstone. Maybe it could happen in the
    dreams of Salvador Dali, but not in the MOQ. If I understand it, the
    argument against correspondence theories is predicated on the idea that we,
    the subjects, are forever seeking the truest true nature of the objects, the
    real world in itself. Pirsig has nothing to do with this mess. In the MOQ,
    the primary reality, the hidden reality if you must, is dynamic and beyond
    intellectual definition. Its something everbody know intimately, and yet it
    the last thing we can expect to have "intellectual descriptions" of. Mostly,
    we can only say what it is NOT. (Intersubjective agreement, a compliment
    after the fact, etc.)

    "The central reality of mysticism, the reality that Phaedrus had call
    "Quality" in his first book, (and DQ in his second book) is not a
    metaphysical chess piece. Quality doesn't have to be defined, you understand
    it without definition, ahead of definition. Quality is a direct experience
    independent of and prior to intellectual abstractions." (Or, if you consider
    the hot stove example, before linguistic awareness too.)

    Matt said:
    A pragmatist would read it as saying that there is a difference between
    "rocks" and "words about rocks." If all Pirsig means is the latter, as
    opposed to the former, then this is not a place where Pirsig differs with

    dmb replies:
    Hmmm. Seems to me that EVERYBODY knows there's a difference between rocks
    and words about them, so its safe to say Rorty and Pirsig agree about that.
    But I don't think that's all Pirsig is saying. He's saying that linguistic
    custom is different than data, which is also different than intellectual
    descriptions. He is decidedly NOT saying that "all awareness is a linguistic
    affair". Pirsig's epistemology begins with value, then sensory experience,
    then comes language. This is my point. This is the difference in their
    epistemologies. One of many.

    Matt said:
    As long as the pages in Lila where Pirsig hooks his train up to pragmatism
    don't disappear, there will always be a prima facie connection between
    Pirsig and contemporary pragmatists, one I will continue to try and make
    some good of.

    dmb says:
    It sounds reasonable in theory, but I think there are problems with it in
    practice. I have the impression that a big part of what you're up to, Matt,
    is bringing Rorty's general criticism of metaphysics to bear upon Pirsig
    specifically in order to improve it. But it seems that you and Rorty dislike
    all the things that Pirsig is NOT. I think one would have much more success
    by reversing the process. Bring Pirsig's criticisms to bear upon Rorty.
    That's where the action is. Rorty is a great example of one of those
    paralyzing nihilist that Pirsig is trying to improve. BUT much more
    importantly, before making a connection between Pirsig's work and anything
    at all, one first needs to master the MOQ. In practice, Matt, you have
    repeatedly demonstrated a lack of comprehension where Pirsig's KEY concepts
    are concerned. (Did I ever tell you about the guy who wanted to write the
    great American novel - even though he hadn't yet mastered the alphabet?)
    See, the trick is that you have to read ALL the pages, not just the ones
    that mention pragmatism.

    Thanks for your your time, dear reader.

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