RE: MF Discussion Topic for May 2004

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sat May 08 2004 - 19:47:47 BST

  • Next message: "RE: MF Discussion Topic for May 2004"

    The May discussion topic is: What is a level?

    There are lots of places to start, but happened to open my copy of Lila and
    found some juicy underlined passages at the beginning chapter 24. There
    Pirsig is not only discussing levels, but also their relationship to one
    another and how they translate SOM's terms. In an attempt to contradict the
    SOM notion that science is unconcerned with values and is concerned only
    with facts. This, he says, is a mistaken notion born of history. More
    specifically, he describes this history as a struggle between two levels and
    employs this description to make a case that science is actually unconcerned
    with a particular kind of values...

    "What the MOQ makes clear is that it is only SOCIAL values and morals,
    particularly church values and morals, that science is unconcerned with.

    There are important historic reasons for this:

    The doctrine of scientific disconnection from social morals goes all the way
    back to the ancient Greek belief that thought is independent of society, that
    it stands alone, born without parents. Ancient Greeks such as Socrates and
    Pythagoras paved the way for the fundamental principle behind science: that
    truth stands independently of social opinion. It is to be determined by
    direct observation and experiement, not by hearsay. Religious authority
    always has attacked this principle as heresy. For its early believers, the
    idea of a science independent of society was a very dangerous notion to
    hold. People died for it.

    The defenders who fought to protect science from church control argued that
    science is not concerned with morals. Intellectuals would leave morals for
    the church to decide. But what the larger intellectual structure of the MOQ
    makes clear is that this political battle of science to free itself from
    domimation by social moral codes was in fact a MORAL battle! It was the
    battle of a higher, intellectual level of evolution to keep itself from
    being devoured by a lower, social level of evolution."

    dmb adds:
    We can see the birth of intellect in the Greek assertion of intellectual
    independence and we can see that this has brought us all the way to the
    present scientific world view. This long historical struggle is basically a
    political battle and we can see in history that it has become increasingly
    less risky for intellect to defy the church authorities or otherwise
    contradict social level values.

    "Once this political battle is resolved, the MOQ can then go back and re-ask
    the queston, 'Just exactly HOW independent IS science, in FACT, from
    society?' The answer it gives is, 'not at all'. A science in which social
    patterns are of no account is as unreal and absurd as a society in which
    biological patterns are of no account. It's an impossibility.

    Our scientific description of nature is always culturally derived. Nature
    tells us only what our culture predisposes us to hear. The SELECTION of
    which inorganic patterns to observe and which to ignore is made on the basis
    of social patterns of value, or when it is not, on the basis of biological
    patterns of value.

    The MOQ resolves the relationship between intellect and society, subject and
    object, mind and matter, by embedding all of them in a larger system of
    understanding. Objects are inorganic and biological values; subjects are
    social and intellectual values. They are not two mysterious universes that
    go floating around in some subject-object dream that allows them no real
    contact with one another. They have a matter of fact evolutionary
    relationship. That evolutionary relationship is also a moral one."

    dmb adds:
    Even if you haven't read this chapter in a while, I think you can see that
    Pirsig is about to lay out the moral codes and is otherwise explaining the
    basic structure of his evolutionary morality. And within this "larger system
    of understanding" each level is a separate and discrete stage of development
    and yet each of these steps is dependent on the advances achieved by the
    previous step. So a level is a stage, a step, a phase of evolution. And of
    course this kind of evolutionary development is not limited to the
    biological level, but includes all the known universe, from dirt to divinity
    as Wilber would put it, including us.


    MOQ.ORG -
    Mail Archive -
    MF Queries -

    To unsubscribe from moq_focus follow the instructions at:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat May 08 2004 - 22:47:49 BST