Re: MD The Individual Level

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Wed Apr 21 2004 - 15:10:49 BST

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    Hi Steve Peterson,

    > I do think clarity can be gained by dropping the language of
    > "being on" a level and talk about people's dominance in favor of discussing
    > the specific patterns of value in question especially when there is
    > disagreement as to leveling since thinking about dominance is secondary to
    > thinking about the patterns themselves.

    This is the nub of our disagreement. IMO, in thinking about the levels,
    the dominance of the patterns in question is primary. There are plenty of
    thinking people on the social level, e.g., Muslim fundamentalists
    manufacturing bombs. To know what level dominates helps one relate
    appropriately to a group or an individual. Example: generally speaking, no
    matter what radical feminists say, women are more concerned with social
    patterns (relationships) than men.

    > One other problem with talking about dominance is that it is only a
    > relative term. We can only say that one person is more dominated by
    > one type of pattern than another person, not that one person is
    > dominated by one type of pattern than another type of pattern. To
    > simply say that one specific person is dominated by the social level
    > doesn't seem right to me, since there is no way to say whether some
    > inorganic pattern like gravity is more influential than some social
    > pattern like shaking hands or some intellectual pattern like logical
    > deduction or some biological pattern like breathing.

    Do you think it wrong to say Muslim fundamentalists are dominated by
    religious social patterns?

    > > I don't see how you can disembody thoughts. Thoughts emanate from
    > > minds of
    > > individuals.
    > I understand that. Is there anyone arguing otherwise?

    No. But if you don't consider that fact important and worthy of
    prominence, you can fall into the habit of thinking of individuals as
    expendable as implied by phrases like 'human resources.' Further, Pirsig
    says more than once that the responsibility for evolutionary progress
    rests on individuals, not on abstract patterns.
    > I'm saying that intellectual patterns are patterns of thinking. You
    > say they are patterns of what? People thinking?

    I'm also saying intellectual patterns are patterns of thinking. The
    intellectual level is dominated by individuals who value the patterns of
    their independent thoughts more than unthinking conformity to social
    patterns. That's another reason why I think a better name for the
    intellectual level would be the Individual Level.

    > Would you say, individual patterns are patterns of thought and action of
    > people when they are behaving and thinking as individuals?
    Could you rephrase the question?

    > >> Perhaps we can agree that an autonomous individual is one who is
    > >> dominated
    > >> by intellectual patterns?
    > >
    > > Rather perhaps we can agree that the individual level is dominated, by
    > > individuals who are dominated by intellectual patterns and thus often in
    > > conflict with individuals dominated by social patterns. Ex: scientists
    > > vs. voodoo priests.
    > I can't make sense of that.

    Do you not see any conflict between science and religion?

    > But I'm not labeling people with the levels at all. That's what I'm
    > saying we shouldn't be doing with the levels.

    Of what moral use are the levels unless we relate them to people?

    > I have no problem thinking of myself as a forest of patterns of value in
    > relationship with dynamic quality.

    I wonder if that's how your family thinks of you. I hope not.:-) I'm being
    facetious. If you want to think of yourself that way, that's fine. But
    consider: If you are combination of patterns at different levels, how can
    the levels be discrete, i.e., unrelated to one another?

    > In the MOQ, reality is understood in
    > terms of patterns rather than subjects and objects. It sounds like you are
    > voicing a fundamental disagreement with the MOQ. Or maybe we are talking
    > past one another because of our different uses of the word pattern. All I'm
    > talking about when I say the word 'pattern' are structures of perception,
    > not conforming cookie cutter people.

    Patterns are 'structures of perception?' Interesting. Please elaborate.

    > A person can be understood in
    > terms of patterns of value and still be thought of as unique and
    > individual.

    Right. It's a matter of emphasis. Let's not take a person 'as unique and
    individual' as something to shrug off by saying, "It goes without
    saying." It has taken eons of evolution and the blood of millions to
    elevate individuals above the herd.
    > What I mean is that I can't see why we need to say it. First of all, no
    > one disagrees and secondly, I personally can think about deductive logic
    > without thinking about someone thinking deductively.

    It's a neat trick if you can think about something without yourself

    > You keep saying that
    > we can't divorce intellectual patterns from the individual having the
    > thought. I'm not sure what premise without evidence you are talking about.
    > I'm not sure what you mean by divorcing in this case. What's wrong with
    > talking about intellectual patterns without regard to who is thinking them?
    > Having regard for who is thinking or saying what is a social pattern, no?

    Having high regard for individuals is an intellectual pattern--freedom of
    speech, of religion, trial by jury, one man one vote, etc.

    > Are you aware of any justification in Pirsig's work for levels
    > including other levels? Doesn't Pirsig say the levels are discrete?

    Please refer to Wim's post of 20 Apr 04.

    > I meant to encourage caution in making such a change to the MOQ, but it was
    > not needed in your case. I know that you of all people know to take
    > seriously any disagreement with Pirsig on the MOQ. I don't mean to say that
    > Pirsig could not be blinded by static filters.

    I agree caution is necessary in suggesting any change to the MOQ. I don't
    think my suggesting to change the name to the Individual Level violates
    any MOQ principles. But, I could be wrong. I think one of the purposes of
    this site, besides being fun, is to kick ideas like this around to see if
    they can survive the questioning others throw at them--all within the
    Individual Level of course. Anonymous thoughts need not apply. :-)

    Best regards,

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