Re: MD The Individual Level

From: Sam Norton (
Date: Sun Apr 18 2004 - 12:57:41 BST

  • Next message: "Re: MD The Individual Level"

    Hi Mark, also anyone who's ever been interested in my point of view,

    'Hoom' is something that Treebeard says a lot, often when he's talking to hasty hobbits.

    Two things from your last message. Firstly:

    > I don't think levels are patterns; they are abstracted descriptions of common
    > features of patterns.
    > Mark 17-4-04 b: This is wrong. I should remind you of your claim that you
    > feel your Eudaimon MoQ to have made only minor changes, leaving the building
    > blocks of the Standard MoQ intact. Now you are suggesting that patterns of value
    > are not present in the MoQ evolutionary levels. This is not a minor change. To
    > continue...

    You declare baldly that 'This is wrong' but don't substantiate the argument, that is, you don't
    explain where I am wrong, how I am misinterpreting the MoQ or how your position gives a better
    account. You continue 'Now you are suggesting that patterns of value are not present in the MoQ
    evolutionary levels' - which seems stupendously bizarre. I truly cannot see how you get to that
    claim from what I have said. I am making a distinction between the name of a class and membership of
    that class, ie the difference between the levels and the patterns of value which the levels
    classify. That seems to be both obvious and basic from how Pirsig has set up the MoQ - nothing to do
    with my own pet theories. How am I suggesting that 'patterns of value are not present'? This just
    seems weird.


    > Sam quotes Mark:
    > > Mark 17-4-04: The term Character here is, in the analogy of the Symphony
    > > Orchestra, Ensemble playing. It is not the Woodwind, String, Percussion or Brass
    > > section.
    > No. That is not what I am saying at all. I am saying that character (ie the
    > eudaimonic pattern of value existing in a particular person) is equivalent to a section of the
    > orchestra.
    > Mark 17-4-04 b: I know. But you are wrong in what you say.

    Again, you just baldly state that I am wrong without giving any argumentative support. What your
    position boils down to is saying 'I know what the MoQ says and you don't'. This is a very
    destructive mode of discussion, because it is based upon a rejection of the other person's voice in
    the debate. There is no engagement with the ideas or points presented, there is only an appeal to
    the authority of the self.

    It seems to me that the only thing that can make discussions in MD fruitful is a generosity of
    spirit, to engage with the best that can be made of an argument, not with the worst and, most of
    all, to see this as a collaborative project trying to articulate - and, yes, even to improve upon
    the framework which Pirsig has bequeathed to us. Now I know that it is possible to do this in this
    forum. Recently I've been having an excellent discussion with Matt about politics and secular
    humanism, and how MoQ insights play into that conversation. I've had other fruitful conversations
    here in the last few years; there are some excellent and stimulating thinkers here, and I've gained
    a great deal from the conversations.

    But I notice that a number of interesting voices have felt driven away from MD, and not
    coincidentally, they have each left after exhausting conversations with yourself (and/or with DMB)
    in particular. I'm thinking specifically of John Beasley, Bo Skutvik and now Matt Kundert. Each of
    them has been exhausted by the uncharitable nature of your dialogue, and now I'm adding myself to
    their number. I just can't see the point in carrying on this conversation when our premises
    (philosophical ones, not religious ones) are so far apart.

    This isn't to say that I think all your arguments are worthless (when you make them) or that you
    don't have anything interesting to say. I think you do. But there is a certain level of
    open-mindedness that I think is essential for fruitful conversation, and you don't seem willing to
    grant that. And the thing is, there is such a thing as 'crowding out' - that having an exhausting
    dialogue with you (and DMB) about the MoQ and Christianity will deprive the forum of other more
    interesting discussions, and it will also mean that I spend time rehearsing old arguments. I think
    I've said enough over the years to explain how I think the MoQ and Christianity cohere or not.
    Anyone interested in my point of view can easily use Google to search the archives for my comments.
    My post on Christianity which seems to have launched this most recent tirade can stand as a suitable
    epitaph; it expresses quite pithily my current understanding of life the universe and everything.

    I'll still be actively involved with MF; I very much want MF to succeed. There are lots of things
    that I'm still interested in relating to the MoQ, especially the question of language, and the
    understanding of emotions, but I think writing essays, and doing piecework via the MF list is the
    way to go.

    "Thoughts reduced to paper are generally nothing more than the footprints of a man walking in the
    sand. It is true that we see the path he has taken; but to know what he saw on the way, we must use
    our own eyes." (Schopenhauer)


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