RE: MF Discussion Topic for January 2004

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Jan 18 2004 - 17:40:29 GMT

  • Next message: Valence: "Re: MF Discussion Topic for January 2004"

    Matt and all those with a 'sense of value':

    Matt denied dmb's charge:
    You imply that I'm importing some kind of physicalism, but I doubt it.

    But Matt had just said:
    If you make this distinction and insist that there is an additional "sense
    value" analogous to the other five senses, I would imagine we would be able
    to find it in our brains, ala the other five senses.

    And then Matt said:
    All I'm talking about is, if a sense of value is analogous to the other five
    senses, then it should appear as a biological pattern of value, i.e. we
    should be able to find it in our brains.

    And just to be sure, Matt said it a third time:
    But, if we take a "sense of value" to be analogous to the other five senses,
    then, again, we should be able to find a biological pattern that is attuned
    to morals, much like our eyes, ears, and skin are attuned to rocks.

    dmb replies:
    Alas, it appears that you have missed my point because this is the
    physicalism I'm talking about. Brains, brains, eyes, ears, skin. All three
    statements exhibit an epistemological view entirely consistent with SOM.
    Maybe the third one reveals the problem best. I think the search for "a
    biological pattern that is attuned to morals" shows that you've taken
    Pirsig's analogy too literally. I mean, it seems extrememly unlikely that
    he's talking about an undiscovered sense organ. The 'sense of value' is LIKE
    the five senses insofar as it helps us read the world, but its reach into
    the inorganic, social and intellectual levels prevents us from thinking of
    it strictly as a biological function. In other words, the 'sense of value'
    exists at every level and so its comparison to sense organs shouldn't be
    taken too literally.

    But the more serious objection to taking Pirsig's analogy too literally is
    contained in that same phrase, "a biological pattern attuned to morals". The
    five senses are fine for appreciating the quality of a meal, the clarity of
    a diamond or the excellence of last night's nookie, but as Pirsig might put
    it, no microscope nor any other scientific instruments (extensions of the
    senses) will ever detect morals. In order to determine the social and
    intellectual quality in our world requires a 'sense of value' that goes
    beyond the sense organs. The author insists this 'sense of value' is alien
    to NO creature. Even particles have some 'sense of value', as demonstrated
    in the preferences they express. And good ideas are not judged by the
    literal eye either.


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