RE: MF Discussion Topic for October 2004

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Mon Oct 04 2004 - 22:56:08 BST

  • Next message: David Morey: "Re: MF Discussion Topic for October 2004"

    "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.

    dmb says:
    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."

    "'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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