Re: MF Discussion Topic for January 2004

Date: Sat Jan 10 2004 - 21:12:40 GMT

  • Next message: Jay Casler: "RE: MF Discussion Topic for January 2004"

    "Does Pirsig adequately support his notion that we have a 'sense of value'
    analogous to the five traditional senses?"

    Pirsig said in his SODV paper:
    "The Metaphysics of Quality follows the empirical tradition here in saying
    that the senses are the starting point of reality, but -- all importantly --
    it includes a sense of value. Values are phenomena. To ignore them is to
    misread the world. It says this sense of value, of liking or disliking, is a
    primary sense that is a kind of gatekeeper for everything else an infant

    Wim said:
    Couldn't this quote be read as implying that the 'sense of value' is not
    analogous to the five traditional senses, but 'primary', kind of summarizing
    or abstracted from them? The 'gatekeeper' metaphor might suggest that the
    'sense of value' has a separate and different role from other senses that
    provide 'imput' for interpretation by the 'sense of value'. I wouldn't take
    the metaphor too literally however.

    I don't think this 'sense of value' is really separate from the five senses
    (and I don't interpret Pirsig as stating that it is). It's merely an
    analytical tool for describing how these five senses are working: through
    them we only experience what has value.

    I think the quote can be read "as implying that the 'sense of value' is not
    analogous to the five traditional senses, but 'primary.'" Interpreting the
    passage this way is consistent with Pirsig's redescription of reality as
    Quality. With a "sense of value" as primary, I take it this means that all
    other senses evolve out of the original historically and in each
    individual's case the five senses are simply five different kinds of a
    "sense of value."

    However, I think this (my preferred interpretation) is already stretching
    the text a bit and I think Pirsig is far too ambiguous to say one way or the
    other. The first three lines supply heavy weight for interpreting him as
    saying that the sense of value _is_ separate from the five senses. The
    fourth supplies a heavy gloss over the first three, towards Wim's
    interpretation, but I don't think it is a clear cut gloss at all. Pirsig
    says, "it includes a sense of value," which is hard to interpret any other
    way than as an _addition_, not as a redescription. His next line is the
    chopped, "Values are phenomena." This is more ambiguous than the first, but
    if it were to read as a redescription, we would have to read the line as
    "Values are what phenomena are." This, I think, is a more strained
    interpretation than reading it as "Values are phenomena also." If we read
    it this way, that makes values a separate commodity then other things
    bouncing around reality. This would impl
    y a sense of value as separate. In addition, if we read the second line
    linearly with the first, with the first providing the gloss for the second,
    the interpretation leans heavily towards reading it as the latter
    (values-as-additional-phenomena), rather than the former
    (values-as-phenomena). The third line then prompts us to gloss backwards to
    the meaning of the second. "To ignore them is to misread the world."
    "Them" refers to "values" in the proceeding line and it steers us to
    interpret that line as values-as-additional-phenomena. If values were the
    sum total of reality, if it were used redescriptively, then it wouldn't be
    possible to ignore them because you are everywhere and always in touch with

    It would seem the major problem with reading this passage is ambiguity in
    the way Pirsig uses the term "value," and I find this throughout his books
    and throughout our writings on this forum. I think Pirsig uses "value" in
    two ways, as synonymous with Quality, i.e. in its redescriptive, ubiquitous
    sense, and in the more traditional sense of being synonymous with morals.

    So, in answer to the topic question, "Does Pirsig adequately support his
    notion that we have a 'sense of value' analogous to the five traditional
    senses?" I think we have to answer in one of two ways: 1) "mu," because we
    do not have a sense of value that is analogous to the other senses because
    all Pirsig means is his redescription of reality or 2) no, because if we
    have a "sense of value" analogous to our five senses then it would be
    empirically testable as a physical section in our brains (like the other
    five senses) and I severely doubt we find a section in our brain that senses
    morals and can be developed or underdeveloped _physically_.

    A corrollary of 1) is that we can still keep the sentiment of "Values are
    phenomena," despite the fact that it clutters up this passage, when values
    are synonymous with morals. I took the entire point of the Quality
    redescription to be that values are as real as rocks.


    MOQ.ORG -
    Mail Archive -
    MF Queries -

    To unsubscribe from moq_focus follow the instructions at:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sun Jan 11 2004 - 05:53:16 GMT