Re: MF Response to Glenn

From: Glenn Bradford (
Date: Sat Oct 23 2004 - 02:06:51 BST

  • Next message: David Buchanan: "RE: MF Towards a Narrative of SOM"

    To DMB except one paragraph for Matt,

    1. It teaches that philosophy must begin with
    universal doubt; whereas scholasticism had never
    questioned fundamentals. (Aye)

    dmb says:
    I disagree. It seems to me that "universal doubt" is
    an extraordinaryly radical kind of skepticism and so I
    think Gorians and the Sophists represent an inaccurate
    comparison at best. Further, As Pierce puts it, the
    Cartesian assertion is that philosophy MUST BEGIN with
    this radical skepticism. Pirsig doesn't make that
    assertion and indeed does NOT begin his MOQ with
    "universal doubt".

    OK. I agree with your point about MUST BEGIN. But if
    we step back and understand the sentence as a whole as
    you suggest, then the main point of it is the contrast
    between Cartesian and scholasticism in the ways of
    belief - that in order to make new progress in
    philosophy, Cartesianism insists that we doubt even
    our most cherished fundamental assumptions. I think
    Pirsig agrees with this attitude in spades, as his
    contrarian drive led him to the radical conclusion
    that subjects and objects are not the primary stuff of
    reality. Your point about intellect not being "born
    without parents" drifts away from the thrust of this

    Matt, you stress the same point as DMB with, "I think
    the difference was that Cartesian scepticism is of a
    particularly methodical kind", and I agree, but
    see above. Your claim that, "I don't think anybody has
    been a Cartesian sceptic except Descartes" could be
    agreeable to me but then if this kind of scepticism
    doesn't apply to Pirsig then it equally doesn't apply
    to all the people who go along with SOM. If, as you
    say, the important influence of Descartes for us is
    not his methods but "the problematic he considered
    important", or in other words his doubting attitude
    toward knowledge, then I agree and I think this is the
    thrust of 1).

    b.Thought is essentially disembodied, and all thought
    is conscious.(Aye,aye)

    dmb says:
    I'm with Matt here. The fact that Pirsig didn't
    "mention" bodies or brains in the letter means nothing
    at all.

    I disagree. I think it is very telling that he
    "forgets" the body and brain in his definition of a
    human. It exposes his radical bias that all that
    really exists is Dynamic Quality and that matter, even
    dressed up as static patterns of quality, doesn't.
    Indeed, he has to be reminded - corrected, that the
    evolutionary aspect of his own philosophy says
    something different.

    f. Other ideas are internal representations of an
    external reality.

    dmb says:
    But it seems pretty clear that were talking about the
    SUBJECT's "internal representations" of an "external"
    OBJECT. Of course Pirsig disagrees with it. This is
    one of his largest targets and he hits it from many
    angles. But most explicitly, he says that the abstract
    symbols that are manipulated in the intellect are even
    tied to experience, let alone an external reality.

    Did you mean to say "abstract symbols that are
    manipulated in the intellect are NOT even tied to
    experience, let alone an external reality"? If so,
    where does he say this? How can this be if the MOQ is
    supposed to be in agreement with empiricism, and even
    more striking, if it is supposed to be in agreement
    with radical empiricism?

    dmb says:
    He insists that the test of truth for our intellectual
    constructs does NOT depend on correspondece to the
    objective world. This is what he wants to REPLACE.
    From LILA, page 356...
    "If objects are the ultimeate reality then there's
    only one true intellectual construction of things:
    that which corresponds to the objective world. But if
    truth is defined as a high-quality set of intellectual

    value patterns, then insantity can be defined as just
    a low-quality set...and you get a whole different
    picture of it."

    OK, so the insane base some of their ideas on
    low-quality internal representations based on their
    own internal reality or a perverted external reality,
    an example of which is the doll that appears to Lila
    as a living baby. In the throws of this Lila uses the
    toilet and eats the cocktail hot dogs and downs the
    stiff drink which leads Pirsig to declare, "She's
    wasn't *that* catatonic." (emphasis his) Is Pirsig
    trying to say here that her grip on external reality
    isn't *that* broken - that she does form valid
    internal representations of external reality when she
    isn't so, uh, ill?

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