From: David Buchanan (DBuchanan@ClassicalRadio.org)
Date: Fri Oct 01 2004 - 04:34:48 BST
Glenn and all MOQer FOCers:
1) "There is no direct scientific connection between
mind and matter."
There is a direct scientific connection. Magnetic
resonance imaging shows that a person's brain changes
when his mind thinks about something different (say,
by flashing images of idyllic pastoral scenes followed
by graphic scenes of war).
MRI detects brain activity, not thoughts. Such instruments can only show
which areas of the brain are active and such, but the actual feelings and
ideas are beyond them.
2) "The world of objects imposes itself upon the mind
with no social mediation whatsoever... But a close
examination shows it isn't so."
Actually, a simple example shows it *is* so. A cat has
a mind and isn't socializable, yet the world of
objects imposes itself on the cat because it can see
objects and manouvre around objects and chase objects
with no problem.
But a mouse does not understand the world in terms of objects, neither
metaphysically or by virtue of common sense. To describe that little
critter's activity in terms of subjecs and objects is just a human
description of what a mouse does. Who's to say he's not One with the cheese
or whatever? And if a mouse is an unsocialized creature, then we're only
talking about biology responding to inorganic and organic nature and not
about "mind" at all. (Mice are pretty smart, but I think its safe to say
that Pirsig would not include them as participants in the social and
3) "Our intellectual descriptions of nature are always
This is true, but only in the obvious sense that ideas
build upon one another like Schliemann's strata. The
underlying aim of this statement, however, is to
expose the "myth of objectivity", and this is
unconvincing. Whose to say that, given enough time,
isolated cultures that remain independent won't
eventually reach the same intellectual descriptions of
nature that the West has reached.
Pirsig isn't saying our intellectual descriptions are so dependent on
culture, otherwise, we'd have Chinese physics, Spanish physics, etc. and
other such messes. But objectivity is the target of his comment. He's
recognizing the single most important discovery of the postmodern era; That
"the limits of my language are the limits of my world". As I understand it,
this is not in dispute by anyone, even if the implications are hotly
disputed. Its not really such a crazy idea when you think about it. How
could we be anything other than the product of a long evolutionary struggle,
especially our minds and our intellectual descriptions of the world? Of
course philosophy doesn't just spring out of brains. That's all he's saying,
that culture and language have shaped our minds since long before
intellectual descriptions were ever concieved. And our intellect comes along
only after that mind was formed and sufficiently evolved. That's what gives
us the capacity to make 4th level contructions in the first place. The myth
of objectivity did not take that into account and has, I think, been
thoroughly shattered by postmodernity.
David, you seem to agree with the sentiment that
objectivity is a myth even though you said later in
the same post that "we can't deviate from the true Tao
even if we want to" and some other mumbo-jumbo about
"the principle of rightness, the Quality that holds
the world together". Wilber chimes in with
"[worldviews] are actually CONSTRAINED by the currents
of the Kosmos". Apparently scientists are not privy to
such wonderfulness as Tao trueness, Quality glue, and
Kosmos currents and must accept a second rate kind of
truth that depends on the acceptance of their culture.
I don't understand the question. I don't see how anything forces scientists
to "accept a second rate kind of truth". I hope I've explained that our
intellectual truths do not depend on the ethnicity of the thinker. I don't
think that's Pirsig's view and didn't mean to imply any such thing. But I do
think scientific truths depend upon the accpetance of the culture in a much
larger sense and in a much more specific sense. The larger sense is the
evolutionary and historical growth of culture and language, while the
specific sense is the scientific culture with its own evolutionary history.
The "mumbo-jumbo" about not deviating from the Tao, from Quality, is aimed
at one of the implications of postmodernisms great discovery. It was aimed at
the idea that language is merely arbitrary and conventional, that it only
serves power structures, pragmatic concerns and other nihilistic postitions.
I think Pirsig and Wilber are NOT questioning any scientific data, they're
just saying that language and culture are NOT arbitrary. They're saying no,
its not meaningless or disposable. Its who we are and its evolution, like
everything else, is constrained by the rightness of the cosmos. And this
even implies that SOM and the myth of objectivity and all that, even though
we are talking about it in terms of mistakes and disasters, has a rightness
to it as well.
Thanks for asking.
PS Matt, I think you don't understand Pirsig well enough to "castrate" him.
That's not the problem. Your brand of pragmatism is the nihilistic kind. It
is fundamentally hostile to mysticism and the MOQ. And vice versa. But the
"animus" doesn't come from this disagreement. In fact, it could be lots of
fun to disagree about that. The anger comes from frustration over your
incomprehensible style, which is vividly display in your latest posting.
Ruby slippers? Huh? Once again, I have no idea what you're TRYING to say.
MOQ.ORG - http://www.moq.org
Mail Archive - http://alt.venus.co.uk/hypermail/moq_focus/
MF Queries - email@example.com
To unsubscribe from moq_focus follow the instructions at:
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Oct 01 2004 - 12:39:15 BST