RE: MF Discussion Topic for February 2005

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sat Feb 12 2005 - 02:22:26 GMT

  • Next message: Sam Norton: "Re: MF Discussion Topic for February 2005"

    Sam and all MOQer Focusers:

    I pulled a few quotes that seemed relevant...

    "The MOQ says hedonism is the intellectual advocacy of biological quality,
    utilitarianism is the intellectual advocacy of social quality."

    "In the MOQ feeling corresponds to biological quality."

    "In the MOQ pain is negative biological quality, and is not considered to be
    mere 'Appearance'."

    "In the MOQ instinct is biological quality."

    Sam said:
    My interest in posing this question is to try and find out what Pirsig means

    when he talks about 'feeling'. I am very unclear on this, and given my
    well-known suspicions about other aspects of the intellectual level, it has
    set some alarm bells ringing. So what I want to do is set out my list of

    A: Is feeling "sensation" - and if so, is it therefore the empirical ground
    for the MoQ? My impression is that it is.

    dmb replies:
    I think it would help to be more specific, especially since words like
    "feeling" and "sensation" are used rather vaguely in everyday language. I
    mean, if we are going to ask where "feelings" are located in the MOQ's
    hierarchy we have to be clear about the nature of that "feeling". Are we
    talking about sexual pleasure? Stepping on a nail? Being moved by a sad
    song? Patriotism can be described as a "feeling". But if we look at the four
    short quotes above, I think we can see what Pirsig is talking about. In
    saying that "feeling corresponds to biological quality" I think its pretty
    clear that he is talking about what we feel in our bodies. Things like
    pleasure, pain and instinct are aspects of our biological selves.

    B: If feeling is sensation in this way, and feeling is biological quality,
    does this skew the MoQ, ie does it make the biological level foundational??

    dmb replies:
    No. Experience, if anything, is the foundation of the MOQ, not biological
    feelings or sensations. And in the MOQ biological experiences such as pain
    are acutally intellectual descriptions of that pain, that negative quality,
    as in the hot stove example illustrates.

    C: In the context of the 19th Century Idealism which Copleston is
    discussing, how is "feeling" related to the Romantic movement's conceptions,

    especially Schleiermacher's understanding of it as the pre-rational
    'immediate self-consciousness' and ground of religion. (I think that they
    are the same thing, and that there is the direct descent from this to
    Pirsig, but I accept that this is controversial. People might want to avoid
    this element for a while).

    dmb replies:
    I had a "feeling" that you were going there. :-) In the other forum the
    "Kantian" thread is still going strong for anyone who wants to pursue that
    line in inquiry. In my opinion, since the month is nearly half gone already,
    it would be wise to focus on "feelings" in the MOQ. (Sam, there is about six
    weeks worth of posts on the topic from me if you'd care to respond to any of

    D: How can we distinguish "feeling" from emotion? I have said before that I
    think that the field of 'emotion' is a blind-spot in the MoQ, and Pirsig
    often seems to have uncritically accepted an enlightenment bias against
    emotion. But it seems to me fairly well-established now that emotions are,
    at least in part, cognitive in character, so that enlightenment bias is
    unsustainable. If so, in what way are "feelings" - understood as biological
    Quality - to be distinguished from "emotions" - understood as, at least in
    part, a pattern which operates on the intellectual level?

    dmb replies:
    It seems to me that emotional feelings are distinctly different from
    biological feelings. If we are punched in the face, for example, it seems
    most people would feel physical pain but also would feel humiliated,
    embarrased, angry, amused or any number of "mental" reactions depending on
    the context of such an event. Stubbing our toes and getting fired can both
    be described as painful experiences, but otherwise have nothing in common.
    See what I mean? It hurts to be clobbered with a shovel and it hurts to be
    so far away from Kate Beckinsale, but one will kill you and one is kinda
    sweet. And how about the kind of "emotions" we experience as a response to
    art or intellectual discovery? Emotion is probably not even the right word
    for such feelings because they are so much more subtle and fine. In any
    case, it seems to me that emotion can't really be put on any one particular
    level, while basic sensations like pleasure and pain, hunger and lust are

    I'm curious about the "enlightenment bias against emotion", Sam. I get the
    'feeling' that theologians have attempted to resist this bias and somehow
    establish or re-establish the validity of emotions. Please, let us in on it.
    I get the feeling that you're not telling us something that's quite relevant
    to our topic. Please, let's hear it.

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