RE: MD The Individual Level

From: Matt poot (
Date: Tue Apr 13 2004 - 21:44:36 BST

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    Hi Platt,

    I am not sure as of yet, that I would say the term "intellectual' (as
    describing a level), to be innacurate. In my understanding of the word,
    the intellectual level, basically has to do with thoughts (thinking), in its
    various practices. This would be similar to the 'mind' concept, but
    different, because it singles out thought, from other things which occur in
    the mind (non-physical realm created by brain) such as emotions, which are
    also influenced by hormones (certain emotions).

    Concerning Sams comments on "Emotional Maturity", I do agree with you, that
    it is somewhat lacking, or perhaps just Sams meaning of the word is
    different than my interpretation of it. However, I do not think that it is
    completely off base, because I think it is important to consider the mental
    maturity of persons.

    Various psychologists have asssigned levels of development , and I
    personally do agree with wholly (they are sometimes accurate, but only in a
    broad sense), as I think it is somewhat defining. However, many of the
    psychologists have mentioned that in a large part of the population, due to
    various reasons(nature-genetics, nuture), never reach the final stage of
    development. Now, I dont think anyone could say that there is any final
    level of mental development, but it is apparent in my experience that some
    people, are just more naturally immature. I don't think this is bad, or
    good. It is just the way it is, as every person is different.

    Time is short.

    What do you think?

    Matt POot

    >From: "Platt Holden" <>
    >Subject: MD The Individual Level
    >Date: Tue, 13 Apr 2004 12:35:13 -0400
    >Hi Sam, Wim, All:
    >Although I didn't understand most of the exchange between Sam and Mark, it
    >prompted me to take another look at Sam's essay entitled 'The Eudaimonic
    >MOQ' in the Forum. There I discovered (having forgotten it) Sam's
    >recasting of the Intellectual Level based on the distinction between the
    >individual and society. He wrote:
    >"To my way of thinking, the essence of the fourth level is the existence
    >of an autonomous individual: autonomous because the individual is (for the
    >first time) capable of establishing their own laws by which to act (auto
    >nomos). Such an individual has freedom of choice and is thereby open to
    >dynamic innovation; such an individual is able to develop that freedom
    >through the development and application of the virtues: it is the wise
    >person that is most free and in touch with Quality, not the intellectual.
    >"Breaking away from the social level
    >"Clearly the way to understand a fourth level, existing above the social
    >level, is through describing the values which override social values.
    >Thus, whatever the fourth level is, it must be something which emerges
    >from the social level, but which cannot be captured through a description
    >of the social level. More precisely, given that we are describing human
    >activity, it must describe the way in which a particular human being
    >rejects social values, in favour of a higher value. Put at its most
    >simple, the fourth level occurs when a particular human being is able to
    >say "My society says that this is good, but is my society right to say
    >so?" - in other words, there is a questioning of social values. We are
    >fortunate that there are some historical accounts of this process, and
    >this history is one of the main strengths of my proposed revision.
    >"The capacity to break out from social conditioning, ie to question social
    >values, depends upon the ability to distinguish oneself as an individual
    >apart from the various social roles that are played. In After Virtue,
    >Alasdair MacIntyre discusses Homeric virtue (the arete that Pirsig also
    >discusses in ZMM) and he argues that "morality and social structure are in
    >fact one and the same in heroic society. There is only one set of social
    >bonds. Morality as something distinct does not yet exist. Evaluative
    >questions are questions of social fact. It is for this reason that Homer
    >speaks always of knowledge of what to do and how to judge." It is only
    >when there is some sense of self as something apart from those social
    >roles (eg husband or wife, child or parent, noble or slave) that there is
    >the possibility of judgement about what is right - in MoQ terms, that
    >openness to DQ depends upon a degree of detachment from the social role.
    >"Just as the cell is the unit at the biological level, and the social
    >roles represent the unit at the social level (eg father, husband, son,
    >farmer, politician, scientist), the unit of the fourth level is not a
    >disembodied rational intellect, but an autonomous - ie socially detached -
    >individual. And that autonomy is not dependent primarily upon reason, but
    >upon emotional maturity. MacIntyre describes the transition (from human
    >being as social unit, to human being as individual) as being the change
    >from the story of the tribe or nation, to being the story of the
    >individual. What is crucially at issue is a transition from being a
    >vehicle or unit of that social order - and therefore whose decisions are
    >wholly determined by that order - to being an autonomous unit of decision
    >making, "For freedom of choice of values would, from the standpoint of a
    >tradition ultimately rooted in heroic societies, appear more like the
    >freedom of ghosts - of those whose human substance approached vanishing
    >point - than that of men". Sometime around Homer and Isaiah, but best
    >exemplified in the culture of fifth century Athens (where Socrates appears
    >at the tail end), human beings gained the capacity to operate as
    >individuals, and not as social units. Whenever a human being is in a
    >decision making situation pre-5th century, then their decisions are geared
    >around an application of biological and social level elements, eg instinct
    >(run away from lions and tigers) or (eg)retribution (maintain status of
    >clan or tribe). For various reasons, largely contact with other
    >civilisations and greater affluence, human beings in Classical Greece
    >became able to consider themselves separately from their social role;
    >moreover, they began to dscriminate and judge between the claims of
    >alternative societies. The key is that whereas before your identity was
    >exhaustively defined by your social role, and your place in the story of
    >that society, and your decisions were determined by the values of that
    >society, now your identity is able to maintain its own narrative
    >structure, your place is determined by the quality of your own actions,
    >and your decisions are determined by your own values."
    >To me all this makes sense except for a quibble about 'emotional maturity'
    >which I find more in the realm of pop psychology than good science. I
    >agree with Pirsig that emotions are expressions of biological level values
    >with one exception--the uniquely human response to beauty i.e. DQ. My
    >other quibble, previously expressed, was with the word 'eudaimonic'
    >because I instinctively shy away from elitist-sounding balloon words.
    >But that aside, I agree with Sam that the MOQ would be improved if we
    >changed the term 'Intellectual Level' to a term that more accurately
    >reflects its difference from the social level. As I wrote to Wim in a post
    >of 4/4: "I think Pirsig's 'war' between the social and the intellectual
    >levels is less between conservatives and liberals than between the state
    >(the collective or group) and the individual."
    >So my vote for the more accurate term to replace Pirsig's Intellectual
    >Level is the 'Individual Level.' As Sam suggests, the level arose in
    >ancient Greece when someone, responding to DQ, arose from the crowd to
    >proclaim "It is I, not we." At that moment, the world turned.
    >What do you think?
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