MF Re: March 2004 - Metaphysics and the mystical reality.

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sat Mar 27 2004 - 05:06:17 GMT

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    Howdy focs:

    DMB said to SAM:
    The difference between 'Quality' and 'Dynamic Quality' as referents to the
    mystical reality is only the difference between ZAMM and LILA, between
    pre-MOQ terms and MOQ terms. ...the first eight chapters serve as a
    transition from ZAMM's Quality to the MOQ's Dynamic Quality.

    RICK chimed in:
    For what it's worth, I don't think you've defeated Sam's argument Dave. I
    think you raised some valid points, but I don't believe they were really
    here nor there concerning the thrust of Sam's case...

    Sam had explained:
    My problem can be expressed in the following way. Assume that "the mystical
    reality" is ultimately indefinable. In the first of these quotations Pirsig
    identifies the indefinable with Quality as such, in the second he identifies
    it with Dynamic Quality.

    Rick chimed in further:
    I think you missed the point of Sam's objection right off the bat. As I
    read Sam, the issue is not the use of two different terms for mystical
    reality, it's about the identification of the mystical reality with two
    distinct philosophical concepts, to wit: (1) mysticism = Quality (the one
    undivided whole etc) or (2) mysticism = dynamic quality (a subdivision of
    Quality which excludes static patterns).

    Hmmm. Really? As I understand it, Sam is making a case that the two quotes
    reveal a contradiction and I'm saying that the first quote uses Quality
    instead of DQ simply because Pirsig had not yet made the DQ/sq split. He
    didn't use the term "DQ" in chapter 5 because it had not yet been
    introduced. which is why I pointed out that Pirsig doesn't get to the actual
    DQ/sq split until the middle of chapter nine.

    Rick said:
    I think the distinction between the terms Quality and Dynamic Quality is
    highlighted in the quote you included which read, "But he realized sooner or
    later he was going to have to stop carping about how bad SOM was and say
    something positive for a change. Sooner or later he was going to have to
    come up with a way of dividing Quality that was better than subjects and
    objects." This evidences the idea that "static and dynamic", like 'subjects
    and objects' or 'romantic and classic' are all just possible conceptual
    subdivisions of a greater unified entity, in this case called Quality.
    Pirsig makes a comment to this effect somewhere in Lila when muses about how
    even SOM was really a Metaphysics of Quality, merely one that divided
    Quality up into subjects and objects.

    dmb replies:
    Exactly. The comment you refer to also comes from chapter nine, just one
    paragraph after the 'sooner or later' passage. There Pirsig says, "Actually
    the issue before hime was not whether there should be a metaphysics of
    Quality of not. There already IS a metaphysics of Quality. A subject-object
    metaphysics is in fact a metaphysics in which the first division of Quality
    - the first slice of undivided experience - is into subjects and objects."
    And this same idea is also well expressed in that same 'sooner or later'
    passage when Pirsig says, "Its alright to condemn somebody else's bad
    metaphysics but you can't replace it with a metaphysics that consists of
    just one word. By even using the term 'Quality' he had already violated the
    nothingness of mystic reality."

    Once Pirsig decides to come up with a replacement for ZAMM's one-word
    metaphysic, on the next page we see him also abandon ZAMM's classic/romantic
    split when he says, "Since this whole metaphysics had started with an
    attempt to explain Indian mysticism Phaedrus finally abandoned this
    classic-romantic split as a choice for a primary division of the MOQ. The
    division he finally settled on was one he didn't really choose in any
    deliberative way." And 6 or 7 pages later, Pirsig finally uses the knife.
    "After many months of thinking about it, he was left with a reward of two
    terms: Dynamic good and static good, which became the basic division of his
    emerging MOQ."

    If Sam can discover a LILA quote AFTER chapter nine where the author reverts
    to his one-word metaphysical system, then his perhaps argument has not been
    defeated. Until then, I'm still convince the apparent contradiction is
    really just a matter of crossing the line, of getting past the point where
    the term "DQ" is introduced to the reader.


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