MF Response to Matt

From: Glenn Bradford (
Date: Sat Oct 16 2004 - 06:25:22 BST

  • Next message: David Buchanan: "RE: MF Response to Glenn, etc."

    Hi Matt,

    > I just
    > want to know what Glenn's thinking of so I can get
    > my bearings.

    Here's my thinking.

    > 1. It teaches that philosophy must begin with
    > universal doubt; whereas
    > scholasticism had never questioned fundamentals.
    > (Aye)
    It's fair to say that almost no philosopher expressed
    as much doubt as Descartes, but I find the same vein
    in Pirsig because he warms to the Greek Sophists who
    were themselves often aligned with Philosophical
    Skepticism. Pirsig agrees with Protagoras' "man is the
    measure of all things" and he shares Gorgias' belief
    that all knowledge originates from sense experience,
    both of which suggest that people set the standard for
    truth and value and that this will vary from person to
    person. He's into 'scientific erasors' and 'many
    truths' and all of this presupposes a constant
    doubting and re-evaluating posture. AT LEAST IN THEORY

    > 3. The multiform argumentation of the middle ages is
    > replaced by a single
    > thread of inference depending often upon
    > inconspicuous premisses. (Nay)

    I don't think we can say that Pirsig started with
    Quality like Descartes did with "I think, therefore I
    am" and then built his way upward as a way of
    *arguing* for his system. Pirsig's metaphysics may be
    foundational after the fact, but Pirsig argues for
    Quality from many different vantage points and not
    from a single one.
    > a. What makes human beings human, the only thing
    > that makes them human and
    > that defines their distinctive nature, is their
    > capacity for rational
    > thought. (Aye)
    > I can see exactly why Glenn would answer this way,
    > but I think Pirsig might
    > try to argue that what makes humans human is their
    > reaction to DQ (as when
    > he says, "patterns can't by themselves perceive or
    > adjust to Dynamic
    > Quality. Only a living being can do that." Lila, p.
    > 185).

    Except that humans are not the only living beings.
    > b. Thought is essentially disembodied, and all
    > thought is conscious. (Aye,
    > aye)
    > I think the first might be wrong and the second
    > inconclusive. Pirsig's
    > picture of a person is a stack of patterns built on
    > top of each other,
    > inorganic, biological, social, intellectual. In
    > this way, I think he would
    > argue that a thought is always embodied.

    You'd think so, but I believe in response to one of
    McWatt's PhD viva questions in which Anthony answered
    much like you did above, Pirsig answered that a human
    is defined only as the union of his social and
    intellectual patterns (the complete purview of mind).
    There is no mention of a mind being embodied or
    dependent on a body or brain at all.

    Then there's the ZMM Afterword where Pirsig believes
    that the pattern of Chris is still viable when the
    pattern of his body is removed (as a result of being
    cremated) from his "larger pattern". Pirsig even
    speculates that what was left of Chris then took over
    the body of his unborn daughter.
    > On the
    > second, if its a question
    > about a conscious/unconscious distinction, I'm not
    > sure that Pirsig would
    > leave out an unconscious.
    I agree, there's nothing conclusive here, although his
    mystical explanations for lucky guessing, beginner's
    luck, inspirational insights, and the like say to me
    that he has discounted the idea that part of his
    brain/mind is working on the problem unbeknownst to

    > e. Some of our ideas are innate and therefore exist
    > in the mind at birth,
    > prior to any experience. (Nay)
    Yes, the tabula rosa image in the baby passage where
    baby is only receptive to Dynamic Quality is my basis
    for answering this way. According to Pirsig a newborn
    can not even perceive objects right away, and
    apparently it's not because the newborn is
    biologically semi-blind. Pirsig generally credits
    little to innate biology and credits a lot to culture.
    For example, Pirsig says in a letter to Skutvik that
    "I had always assumed that this blockage of direct
    quality perception was social, but in Mexico a few
    years ago I talked to a neurologist who argued that it
    was physiological."

    > f. Other ideas are internal representations of an
    > external reality. (Aye)

    I agree that there is no corroborating evidence for
    this in his writing, but somehow I can't see Pirsig
    disagreeing with this.

    > h. Nothing about the body, neither imagination nor
    > emotion nor perception
    > nor any detail of the biological nature of the body,
    > need be known in order
    > to understand the nature of the mind. (Aye)
    > My instinct
    > would be to say no just
    > because of Pirsig's description of the petyote
    > experience in Lila, where he
    > makes mysticism biologistic.

    Turning "mysticism biologistic" sounds like an
    oxymoron. Once you've reduced it to biology, the
    super-fragi-mysticaligistic stuff is as good as gone,
    and I don't see him attempting that. The peyote just
    loosened the grip of his objective, static patterns,
    and there's no hint from him that he thinks these
    patterns reside in his brain. My reason for agreeing
    with h) is that in the MOQ the mind is two levels of
    reality removed from the body and as such the two have
    scarcely anything to do with one another.

    Matt, what did you mean when you said "...Glenn
    cribbed off of Peirce, Lakoff, and Johnson..."?

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