From: David Buchanan (DBuchanan@ClassicalRadio.org)
Date: Mon Oct 04 2004 - 22:56:08 BST
"Is 'subject-object metaphysics' just another word for Cartesianism? If not,
is there another description of it that might be recognised by the academic
community?" I'm interested in exploring for connections between the MoQ and
present day academia, to try and break out of our ghetto.
Ghetto? Well, that broad insult seems uncalled for, especially since the
discussion hasn't even begun yet. Please wait for some comments to be posted
first, then start hurling insults at more specific targets, like me....
Yes. SOM is another name for Cartesianism, or rather they both refer to what
is more simply called Modernity. Basically, we can divide historical time
into three periods and call them pre-Modern, Modern and post-Modern, the
last of which has just begun. Here's some Ken Wilber on the topic...
"Modernity, for historians, refers very loosely to the general period that
had its roots in the Renaissance, blossomed with the Enlightenment, and
continues in many ways to this day. ...Descartes is considered the first
'modern' philosopher; modern philosophy is usually 'representational', whcih
mean it tries to form a correct representation of the world. This
representational view is also called'the mirror of nature', because it was
commonly believed that the ultimate reality was sensory nature and
philosophy's job was to picture or mirror this reality correctly."
"...today's 'modern world' actually consist of several different current,
some of which are 'modern' in the specific sense (those events set into
motion with the Western Enlightenment, as listed above), others of which are
carry-overs from the premoden world (in particular, remnants of mythic
religion and, more rarely, remnanats of tribal magic), and still others of
which are postmoden. In short, today's 'modern world' actually consist of
various premodern, modern, and postmoden currents."
Or in a more direct way, we can pretty easily imagine SOM growing up in a
period where science is born and, for historical reasons, puts the focus
almost entirely upon the "material" world. At the same time we get the
radical subjectivism implied by Descartes' conclusion that all he can really
know for sure is that he thinks and so exists. That's when subjects and
objects began to go round and round...
And there are lots of names for this view; flatland, scientific materialism,
scientific objectivity, the disenchanted world, the mechanical universe, the
Newtonian universe,... I'll bet there are a hundred names and just as many
angles of attack. These names vary according to who is given credit for the
view who is central or emblematic of the view, or in the case of critic, the
name given will ususally refer to the central problem of the same view, or
their central criticism of that view. In fact, Pirsig refers to SOM in
several different ways depending on his angle of attack. Sometimes he calls
it a metaphysics of substance, sometimes amoral objectivity, sometimes
scientific materialism. But a rose is a rose and by any other name it would
still have thorns.
And I think its pretty important to see this because Pirsig's MOQ exist
within the context of these historical movements. Since he begins with the
pre-Socratics and takes us up to contemporary physics, I think we can safely
assume that he's very well aware of all these currents. I think its also
safe to assume that at least some scholars could see Pirsig's attack on SOM
as part of a larger, postmodern trend.
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