RE: MF April 2004 - Metaphysics and the mystical reality.

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Apr 11 2004 - 19:32:48 BST

  • Next message: Sam Norton: "Re: MF April 2004 - Metaphysics and the mystical reality."

    Glenn, Hugo and all y'all:

    Pirsig wrote:
    "Actually the issue before him was not whether there should be a metaphysics
    of Quality or not. There already IS a metaphysics of Quality. A
    metaphysics is in fact a metaphysics in which the first division of Quality
    - the first slice of undivided experience - is into subjects and objects."

    Glenn said:
    One could argue that SOM is a metaphysics (albeit one
    that no one completely believes), yet it makes little
    sense to call SOM a Quality metaphysics unless the
    constituents of its first cut are kinds of Quality,
    and this would only happen if you were convinced that
    subjects and objects are not really subjects and
    objects but instead kinds of Quality. In short, saying
    that SOM or any metaphysics you can think of is really
    a Quality metaphysics in disguise is less an insight
    than it is a demonstration of the extent of Pirsig's

    dmb says:
    Makes little sense? Only shows Pirsig's bias? I have to say these objections
    strike me as rather flimsy, if not entirely fictitious. The objection seems
    all but irrelevant to the relatively simple point being made. Pirsig is even
    careful to let the reader know what kind of "Quality" he's talking about.
    He's only saying that SOM, or any other metaphysical system, divides the
    undivided reality. This idea is perfectly consistent with Pirsig's assertion
    that, "by even using the term 'Quality' he had already violated the
    nothingness of mystic reality." and "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." So, by saying that SOM
    is a metaphysics of Quality, he's not saying that it divides the world into
    kinds of quality. And there is no disguise involved here. He's only saying
    that Quality (undivided experience, the mystical reality) can be divided any
    number of ways.

    Glenn said:
    Pirsig says in LC that "ideas come first" except for
    DQ, which exists prior to ideas. So if this is true
    then how could Pirsig also think that the Dynamic part
    of static/dynamic Quality *only* exists as a concept
    within human understanding? Admittedly, there is a
    certain difficulty about using terms like Quality,
    Dynamic Quality, and static quality and being
    completely understood because they serve dual
    functions as ideas in and of themselves and as
    pointers to other aspects of reality, but since ideas
    and reality are so intimately intertwined in the MoQ,
    as they are in any metaphysics based on philosophical
    idealism, it is often impossible to set straight the
    system's interior logic.

    dmb says:
    Again, I think you are being far too "inventive" in your objections. If I
    understand the first one, you're saying two ideas clash. (1)DQ is prior to
    ideas. (2)The DQ/sq split is conceptual. And you're saying that DQ can't be
    a concept and prior to concepts at the same time. Is that about right? I
    suppose the easiest response is to simply point out that this is just a
    result of the inherent degeneracy of doing metaphysics. One is forced to
    have some kind of term or concept for that which is beyond terms and
    concepts. I think you're taking unfair advantage of the fact that we're all
    polluters. Yes, Pirsig has an intellectual term for the pre-intellectual
    undivided reality. He defines it as that which cannot be defined. This is at
    the heart of the distinction between metaphysics and the mystical reality,
    between thought and experience, which is the topic of the month. Maybe its
    not the easiest issue we've ever grappled with here, but you say its "often
    impossible to set straight the system's interior logic?" IMPOSSIBLE? And
    this is because "ideas and reality are so intimately intertwined"? I must be
    missing something here, because that doesn't seem like much of a reason.

    Glenn said:
    His own radical bias makes him forget about static
    quality many times after the first 40 chapters. Check
    out how he throws around the term quality when he is
    clearly speaking of DQ in his 2000 letter to Bodvar.

    dmb says:
    I think good readers can tell what Pirsig means from the context and content
    of any given passage. I don't wish to stray too far from the topic or get
    bogged down in narrow hair-splitting about terms. But if you honestly think
    there is a case where Pirsig's use of these terms leaves the reader confused
    - and its relevant to this month's topic - then please provide it. As you
    say yourself in the example you have just given, in the letter Pirsig "is
    clearly speaking of DQ". I mean, if its so clear, then what's the problem?

    Glenn said:
    I think if you accept these examples, as well as
    Pirsig's metaphor about the menu and the food, as
    mystical, then Pirsig has done an adequate job of
    helping us understand the mystical in juxtaposition to

    dmb says:
    Hmmm. How do you square "an adequate job" with "impossible to set straight"?
    I mean, it sure looked like you were about to reach to opposite conclusion
    and so I was quite surprized when I first read it. But, yes, the difference
    between the menu and the food is an apt analogy. They are something like
    thought and experience, metaphysics and the mystical reality, static and

    Glenn said:
    Certain detractors of the MoQ, including myself, have
    been saying these very things for a long time. For
    example, see the title of the review of Lila's Child
    by Struan Hellier at, and the first few
    sentences of the second paragraph.

    dmb says:
    Here I would only remind everyone that it is fairly important that each of
    us remain focused on the topic. Again, maybe I've missed something here, but
    I fail to see how the new ageyness of the MOQ is relevant to the topic.
    Please. Let's keep our eyes on the proverbial ball.


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