MF March 2004 - Metaphysics and the mystical reality.

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sat Mar 06 2004 - 04:28:19 GMT

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    Does Pirsig's work help us sort out the distinctions between metaphysics and
    the mystical reality?

    "Metaphysics is not reality. Metaphysics is NAMES about reality. Metaphysics
    is a restaurant where they give you a 30,000 page menu and no food."

    Howdy Focs:
    Thanks for electing the topic. Even though I don't yet know who the
    moderator is, I hope this post gets the ball rolling for this month's

    I don't expect to see any persuasive cases made for answering the question
    with a 'no' and I doubt if there is anyone left who seriously doubts the
    mystical nature of Pirsig's metaphysics. Its possible, but I thought the
    question would help us focus on the heart of the MOQ. If I understand the
    MOQ, sorting out the differences between philosophical mysticism and the
    mystic reality to which it refers will very likely give us a better picture
    of reality - at least as Pirsig painted it. Here's one of the quotes that
    started my wheels turning...

    "Phaedrus remembered Hegel had been regarded as a bridge between Western and
    Oriental philosophy. The Vedanta of the Hindus, the Way of the Taoists, even
    the Buddha had been described as an absolute monism similar to Hegel's
    philosophy. Phaedrus doubted at the time, however, whether mystical Ones and
    metaphysical monisms were introconvertable since mystical Ones follow no
    rules and metaphysical monisms do. His Quality was a metaphysical entity,
    not a mystic one. Or was it? What was the difference?" ZAMM (ch 20)

    What's the difference between a metaphysical monism and a mystical ONE? This
    month's question was already raised by Pirsig long ago, even if it was a
    rhetorical question. I think its interesting to note that Pirsig treats
    Hindu, Taoist and Buddhist ideas as intellectual as Western philosophy. One
    might be tempted to draw a line between religion and philosophy, a line that
    Hegal and other have crossed. We see this equation even more fully in LILA,
    where Zen meditators, Indian payote eaters and "some of the most honored
    philosophers in history" all "share a common belief"...

    "Some of the most honored philosophers in history have been mystics:
    Plotinus, Swedenborg, Loyola, Shankaracharya and many others. They share a
    common belief that the fundamental nature of reality is outside language;
    that language splits things up into parts while the true nature of reality
    is undivided. Zen, which is a mystic religion, argues that the illusion of
    dividedness can be overcome by meditation. The Native American Church argues
    that peyote can force-feed a mystic understanding upon those who were
    normally resistant to it,..." LILA (ch 5)

    "Quality is indivisible, undefinable and unknowable in the sense that there
    is a knower and known, but a metaphysics can be none of these things. A
    metaphysics must be divisible, definable, and knowable, or there isn't any
    metaphysics. Since a metaphysics is essentially a kind of dialectical
    definition and since Quality is essentially outside definition, this means
    that a 'MoQ' is essentially a contradiction in terms." LILA (ch 5)

    "But the answer to all of this, he thought, was that a ruthless, doctrinaire
    avoidance of degeneracy is a degeneracy of another sort. ...The only person
    who doesn't pollute the mystic reality of the world with fixed metaphysical
    meanings is a person who hasn't yet been born - and to whose birth no
    thought has been given. The rest of us have to settle for something less
    pure. Getting drunk and picking up bar ladies and writing metaphysics is a
    part of life. That was all he had to say to the mystic objections to a MOQ."
    LILA (ch 5)

    Ladies and Gentlemen, start your polluting!


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