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

From: Sam Norton (
Date: Sun Apr 18 2004 - 21:50:35 BST

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

    Hi people,

    The question before us is: "Does Pirsig's work help us sort out the distinctions between metaphysics
    and the mystical reality?"

    As the answer to this question entirely depends upon how we understand Pirsig's metaphysics - even
    the most basic terms like 'Static Quality' and 'Dynamic Quality' are relevant - I can't see how we
    can answer the question without considering these elements.

    Now, given the way the discussion between myself and Mark went in MD, I'm reluctant to get into
    another one here. But I think the following paragraph is worth unpicking:

    >> Mark 12-4-04: The Metaphysics of Quality talks about Quality by using two
    >> terms: Dynamic Quality and Static Quality. You may think of this as a hierarchy
    >> in the following way:
    >> 1. Quality. Cannot be discussed and fatal to indicate. Final. This is the
    >> Plotinian and unnamed Tao way of going about it. Very hard to do, especially for
    >> people like yourself who enjoy analysis. The MoQ does not talk about Quality
    >> either.
    >> 2. DQ. Now we have left off not talking about that which we cannot talk about
    >> and begun talking. Here, DQ is the unconceptualised, as you appear to
    >> understand.
    >> 3. SQ. Fill your boots in the talking dept.
    >> From the above you should not even be using Quality at all. But you do, and
    >> that is unfortunate.

    >> Mark 12-4-04: You will notice that the MoQ uses two terms: DQ and SQ.
    >> Everything you need to say may be said using these two terms. The term Quality is not
    >> used in the MoQ.

    At one and the same time Mark claims that
    "The Metaphysics of Quality talks about Quality by using two terms: Dynamic Quality and Static
    and also
    "The MoQ does not talk about Quality"; "The term Quality is not used in the MoQ."

    This seems a contradiction to me. But perhaps I'm just incompetent.

    But I'd be interested in Mark's comment on the quotation that Rick helpfully provided a while back,
    from Ant McWatt's thesis:

    McWATT (from his textbook 2:3:5)
    "Firstly, the MOQ centres round the term 'Quality' (with a capital 'Q) which is used,
    interchangeably with 'Value'. 'Quality' is used to denote reality (by which Pirsig means the
    totality of what exists) in addition to its traditional context (i.e. as a synonym for excellence)."

    To say "The term Quality is not used in the MoQ" would seem to contradict Ant's assessment. But
    then, perhaps Ant doesn't understand the MoQ either.

    To get to the point, and try and get things going again. This contradiction seems to express
    perfectly what I object to about Pirsig's conception of mysticism, viz that he DOES blur the
    distinction between Quality and Dynamic Quality, and this undermines his analysis of mysticism. But
    I think that we need to clear a lot of ground before we can have an intelligent discussion on that.
    Which is why we need to do this conceptual work first.

    IS it the case that Quality is a synonym for reality, and that the dynamic/static division is a
    metaphysical 'slicing' of that reality conceptually on a par with 'romantic/classic' or
    'subject/object'? (Some being worse than others)
    IS it the case that Quality is a nonsense term (ie something about which we cannot talk sense) that
    can be bracketed out from discussions, as Mark seems to argue for, so that Dynamic Quality is
    reality (the mystical reality) and Static Quality is inferior?

    It seems to me that unless we can gain clarity on this conceptual point, all the other interesting
    conversations that we might have on this topic are nugatory. And if people don't want to debate this
    point, lets move on to a new topic.


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