RE: MD When is an idea an Idea?

From: Paul Turner (
Date: Tue Mar 09 2004 - 15:06:12 GMT

  • Next message: Leland Jory: "Re: MD Quality takes a hit"

    Hi Chris

    Chris said:
    ...when was the last time you experienced a level?

    When was the last time you experienced a liquid?

    Chris said:
    It would be a very messy world if 'Plato' did not inhere in our genes.
    This fixation enables us to understand, no doubts there.

    Firstly, I don't think Plato's "Ideas" and "ideas" are in any way
    synonymous. Oriental understanding comes from the "genes" of the Vedas
    and Upanishads where the notion of transcendent Forms is absent, yet use
    is made of ideas nonetheless. The major difference is that Plato
    considered it possible and desirable for human intellect to (re)discover
    the underlying Truth of reality conceptually; the Eastern philosophies
    thought it was impossible and undesirable. Compare these two passages:

    "... a human being must understand speech in terms of general forms,
    proceeding to bring many perceptions together into reasoned unity. That
    process is the recollection of the things our soul saw when it was
    travelling with god, when it disregarded the things we now call real and
    lifted up its head to what is truly real instead." [Plato, Phaedrus

    "The way is forever nameless.
    Though the uncarved block is small
    No one in the world dare claim its allegiance.
    .only when it is cut are there names.
    As soon as there are names
    One ought to know that it is time to stop." [Tao Te Ching, XXXII]

    Chris said:
    My problem lies in making the levels transcendental or transcendent, the
    latter more likely to occur these days. I want people to realise that
    there are large parts of the world where people indeed do not have seven
    days in a week so that it is very unlikely that these levels say more
    than what one man has to say about, philosophologilising(oef?) Pirsig
    seems to be a general trend here.

    Compare both of the passages above with this statement from Pirsig:

    "The Dynamic reality that goes beyond words is the constant focus of Zen
    teaching. Because of their habituation to a world of words, philosophers
    often do not 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." (Pirsig, 1997e)

    I think it is clear that Pirsig is not attempting or endorsing any
    "fixation" of reality in transcendent ideas as Plato did but is closer
    to the thinking behind the Tao Te Ching.

    Regarding the MOQ being no more than, "what one man has to say," the
    same can ultimately be said of gravity, evolution, radiotherapy,
    electricity, combustion, enlightenment, nothingness, earth, the solar
    system etc and, whilst it may be important not to forget this, saying
    "no more than" seems to imply there is a possibility of a description
    being *more than* "what one man has to say," which makes me question
    what is gained from such a statement.

    Chris said:
    Contingency is characterised by insecurity and instability

    Then we are confusing our definitions. I would say contingency is
    characterised by being dependent and provisional. In the case of the MOQ
    static levels, they are dependent on e.g. the limits of language and on
    the quality of the theory of evolution, amongst other things. Pirsig
    clearly states in Lila that they are also provisional.

    Paul previously said:
    >I think people have their own idea about what types of experience the
    >levels define, that's all. I believe "scientists" still argue about
    >is dead or alive. Also, I think people sometimes make the mistake of
    >trying to assign things entirely to one level or another.

    Chris said:
    They have their own ideas of what types of experience levels define; the
    levels are accepted as ' given' !

    That isn't what I said or meant. The levels are "given" only to the
    extent that they are described in Pirsig's books and this is a forum set
    up to discuss those books.

    "Phaedrus had once called metaphysics "the high country of the mind" -
    an analogy to the "high country" of mountain climbing. It takes a lot of
    effort to get there and more effort when you arrive, but unless you can
    make the journey you are confined to one valley of thought all your
    life. This high country passage through the Metaphysics of Quality
    allowed entry to another valley of thought in which the facts of life
    get a much richer interpretation. The valley spreads out into a huge
    fertile plain of understanding." [Lila p.172]

    I thought this forum is supposed to be about exploring that "fertile
    plain of understanding" but it sometimes seems that a lot of people have
    their own plot of land they are trying to sell :-)

    Chris said:
    So why the fanatical commitment to it, that is how suggestions and clues
    become dogma's.

    I prefer to call it enthusiasm, and it is the forum you are on
    after all. That said, it isn't supposed to be a fan club either, so
    critics, cynics, mystics, idealists, materialists and even
    neo-pragmatists (!) are all worthy contributors to the discussion, and
    the validity/utility of the levels is rightly up for debate.



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