Re: Re: MD The Individual Level

From: Steve Peterson (
Date: Fri Apr 16 2004 - 19:12:56 BST

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    Hi Platt,

    I said:
    > > I think that the misunderstanding that suggests eudamonia level for Sam
    > > and individual level for Platt is conceiving of the levels as types of
    > > people rather than types of patterns of value.

    Platt said:
    > For myself, besides the arguments Sam presents, it's a question of dominance.
    > Only individuals create intellectual patterns. Most of us agree that those
    > patterns existed and still exist at the social level.

    Not sure I understand you. Are you saying that individuals existed and still
    exist at the social level? If so, I think there is an LC quote supporting that
    that says that people are social patterns, though I think elsewhere he also
    describes people as forests of static patterns of all types which makes mores
    sense to me.

    I can also agree that it is worth talking about dominance, but using the
    language of someone "being on" a particular level confuses the matter when what
    you mean by it is to be dominated by a particular level. When you say that
    someone is on the intellectual level, it sounds like you are saying that the
    person literally *is* an intellectual pattern rather than saying she is
    dominated by intellectual patterns. I can see that it would make more sense to
    say that the person literally *is* an individual, but the shift in names from
    intellectual to individual only seems necessary bcause you are conflating
    "being on" a level with being dominated by a type of pattern of value. As I
    understand the MOQ, the only things that are literally on the intellectual
    level are thoughts.

    Perhaps we can agree that an autonomous individual is one who is dominated by
    intellectual patterns?

    >But when the
    > individuals who created those patterns saw that the social level was a
    > hindrance to their free expression, they gathered sufficient power to
    > create a new level that freed them from the stifling confines of social
    > level patterns, you know, freedom of religion, of speech, trial by jury,
    > etc.

    I would say that people holding those ideas gained sufficient control of social
    institutions to institutionalize those freedoms as these particular ideas
    became widely perceived to be good by way of belief. There is no static level
    above that of ideas (individual level) that contains patterns of valuation of
    ideas. The set of valuations of ideas is the intellectual level itself. no new
    level is required to free intellectual patterns. It is a matter of people
    creating social structure that encourage the evolution of intellectual

    > > Eudamonia and individual describe people, whereas Pirsig's intellectual
    > > level is a collection of patterns of value of a particluar type.
    > I don't see how you can divorce people from intellectual patterns.

    This question disolves when you stop thinking in terms of subjects and objects
    (thinkers and thoughts) in favor of patterns of value.

    A person is not a fourth level entity. A person is a pattern of patterns that
    does have a fourth level component since we think of one's thought patterns as
    part of his identity. We think of his social and biological patterns as part
    of his identity as well. (We don't bother thinking about one another's
    inorganic patterns since we all play by the same rules there.)

    > >When you
    > > think of the levels as types of patterns where intellectual patterns are
    > > simply patterns of thinking, then there is no need to do any renaming.
    > I don't see how you can divorce individuals from patterns of thinking.

    Consider the pattern of deductive logic. Must you think about some individual
    thinking deductively to think about deductive logic, or can you simply think
    about deductive logic? The fact that there would be no deductive logic without
    biological brains to manipulate socially constructed symbols standing for
    patterns of experience goes without saying.

    You may be conflating Pirsig's levels with Wilber's holons. The intellectual
    level does not contain the social level which does not contain the biological
    level, etc. Each is a specific type of pattern whose existence depends on the
    level below but is not contained by the level below and does not contain the
    level below. If that's what you mean by "divorced" then, yes, I think the
    levels are divorced.

    > > I hope that the problems that
    > > each of you found with the term intellectual will lead you to reconsider
    > > how you have been thinking about what Pirsig means by level. As Ayn Rand
    > > would tell you, when you encounter a contradiction, check your assumptions.
    > > There are no contradictions.
    > I see no contradictions in renaming the Intellectual Level the Individual
    > Level. It's simply a proposal for a change for the better in the MOQ,
    > something Pirsig encouraged.

    The contradiction I'm talking about is whatever drove you to feel the need to
    fix Pirsig's work. I'm suggesting that you should consider that the problem may
    be the way you are thinking about the levels rather than an error that RMP made
    in naming them. I suspect he knew what he meant by intellectual. (He was even
    anoyed at the thought of someone else not knowing what he meant because he
    thought it was so obvious.) If he actually meant individual level, I'm sure he
    would have called it that.


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