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

From: Sam Norton (
Date: Sun Apr 11 2004 - 20:17:06 BST

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

    Hi David, all,

    >> But let me repeat this crucial point; The issue I've tried to raise
    >> here is about the meaning of distinction. The last thing I had in mind was a
    >> narrow, hair-splitting debate about the use of terms. I hope we can get at
    >> something with more soul and substance. Please don't be distracted by the
    >> clumsy way I formed the question. Just because it can't be squeezed into a
    >> 'yes or no' question certainly doesn't mean it is an unimportant question.
    >> (I wonder if any interesting questions can be answered so simply.) Instead,
    >> look at the central terms of the question; metaphysics and the mystical
    >> reality. That's what I'm asking about. By sorting out the differences
    >> between philosophical mysticism and the mystic reality itself, I hope to get
    >> at the very center of the MOQ, to help us focus on the heart of it. Mystical
    >> reality and metaphyisics are contradictory terms, but they are at the core
    >> of the MOQ because it is essentially a metaphysics of mystical reality...

    Well, I raised the conceptual point (as the first of two points, the second of which has been
    quietly ignored) because it seemed to me that if Pirsig's understanding of Quality/DQ/SQ was - shall
    we say - loosely worded, then that would have a significant bearing on what you want to talk about
    (which we all want to talk about too).

    I also think that it underlies much of the confusion that consistently defeats attempts to gain
    clarity about the different levels and the way that religion relates to the MoQ. So all in all, I
    make no apology for raising conceptual questions. If we can't gain further clarity about what we're
    talking about - and for sure, the issues raised cut to the very heart of the MoQ which is what you
    claim to want to talk about - then there's not much point in having this discussion at all.

    The understanding that I object to came to the fore again in your post. You said: "The true nature
    of reality is undivided. That's the pre-intellectual cutting edge of experience."

    As I understand the MoQ there are three elements: Quality, Dynamic Quality and Static Quality.

    Quality is (the mystical) reality.
    Dynamic Quality is the pre-intellectual cutting edge of reality
    Static Quality is the pattern of value that dynamic quality leaves in its wake

    So in terms of how we can understand and explain our experience (experience being the basic 'stuff'
    of reality - and the MoQ being a variant of empiricism) what we have are: our static patterns (eg
    our accumulated language); our 'dim apprehensions of things too obscure for its existing language'
    which is DQ; and we also have all those things which we don't have any comprehension or intimation
    of whatsoever - the totally unknown and unknowable.

    The reason why DQ and Quality need to be distinguished is because if they are identified then the
    MoQ collapses into solipsism, in other words, MY appreciation of DQ is not contextualised by my
    static patterns that have led me to this point; no, my appreciation of DQ is a direct appreciation
    of all that there is.

    Quality is bigger than DQ. But DQ is the interface between any particular set of static patterns and
    Quality itself. It's like saying a person is the skin - because the skin is what you touch, what you
    relate to. But there's more to a person than the skin - to argue otherwise is superficial.

    I think the heart of what I am trying to argue is that DQ is a relative term not an absolute term.
    Whether a particular pattern is DQ or not depends upon its relationship with the SQ surrounding it.
    When Socrates was teaching his students he was teaching them to realise something that he already
    knew - that didn't make it any less dynamic *for them*, ie for the static patterns that were
    interacting with Socrates' static patterns.

    So when you say: "The true nature of reality is undivided. That's the pre-intellectual cutting edge
    of experience" I think you are eliding the distinction between Quality (the true nature of reality
    as undivided) and Dynamic Quality (the pre-intellectual cutting edge **which we experience**)
    because the latter is relative to the static patterns it is based in.

    I still consider Quality to be the mystical reality, and the reason why the MoQ works is because it
    is an 'open' system, that is, it allows for an appreciation of the unexpected, and therefore room to
    change. But DQ changes, when they have Quality and are not degenerate, result in SQ fallout, and the
    process carries on and repeats and repeats, journeying ever deeper into Quality itself. DQ is the
    lure that draws us on, it is not the destination. And that DQ can operate through existing SQ
    patterns, dependent on the interaction with other SQ patterns. When the baby discovers how to walk,
    this is surely a DQ moment - even though it has been done millions of times before.

    There we go. Sorry if this isn't going where you want it to go, but I think this is the essence of
    the debate - and if we can sort this out, then I think many of our other disagreements will fall


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