From: Mark Steven Heyman (email@example.com)
Date: Thu May 12 2005 - 20:51:18 BST
More in response to Sam's long post.
Sam now sets up a distinction between the ZMM Narrator and the character of
Phaedrus in LILA, saying that the Narrator is more pragmatic in not chasing
the metaphysics, while Phaedrus in LILA pursues the metaphysics with
sometimes reckless abandon.
I agree that this difference exists between the two characters, but I don't
see the point in making the distinction. The literary and philosophical
goals of the two books are very different, with ZMM telling us that we
shouldn't need to be told what Quality is, and LILA saying "But in case you
do, here's a metaphysical framework that will assist you." I'm not sure,
but I think Sam sees these somewhat contradictory themes as evidence of a
contradiction in the Metaphysics of Quality, a contradiction that is not
apparent to me.
The second element relates to the differing status of Socrates, the founding
father of metaphysics.
Sam then correctly goes on to say that in ZMM the Narrator becomes furious
when he sees that "Socrates is not using dialectic to understand rhetoric,
he is using it to destroy it." He sees dialectic as the usurper, "muscling
in on all that is Good and seeking to contain and control it. Evil."
So, no problem. This supports the main idea of the book: we don't need
someone to tell us what is good, not even Socrates (Plato).
But in Lila, the status of Socrates has changed. Now he is once more the
martyr to the independence of intellectual patterns from the social level:
that 'truth stands independently of social opinion'.
Instead of being an instrument of evil, he has become an instrument of a
higher evolutionary level, and therefore more moral than those who oppose
Here I have to ask for some textual support. Where, in LILA, do you see
Socrates re-enthroned, where does Pirsig claim that "truth stands
independently of social opinion?" In LILA, I see that an intellectually
dominant individual has a closer connection to truth than one who is
dominated by social custom, but this doesn't mean that all social customs
are ignorant of truth.
This is why I think there is a problem with the structure of the MoQ. In ZMM
the Narrator quotes Kitto saying: "areté implies a respect for the wholeness
or oneness of life, and a consequent dislike of specialisation. It implies a
contempt for efficiency - or rather a much higher idea of efficiency, an
efficiency which exists not in one department of life but in life itself".
I think the problem you see is self-created. You are trying to reconcile
the words of two different characters from two different books which were
written for two different reasons. You are trying to coalesce into one the
Narrator of ZMM, the Phaedrus of LILA, and author of the two books.
So what is the problem? The problem is the question that I began with: where
does individual worth, areté, fit in with the MoQ? Or is it something to be
Again, for me, areté fits in at the social level, and is left behind once
the intellectual becomes dominant. For me, the desire for areté, rooted in
competition and war, plays a vital role in the battle between the biological
and social levels, and in the various skirmishes within the social level
itself. As Kitto says, areté is "what moves the Greek warrior to deeds of
heroism." Once the cultural illusion of self-reliant individuals is
shattered by intellect, there remains little need for areté, unless one
finds oneself suddenly needing to "beat a young braggart at throwing the
discus, challenge the Pheacian youth at boxing, wrestling or running; flay,
skin, cut up and cook an ox."
In terms of what I wish to pursue in my life, it is precisely that pursuit
of Quality, the 'wholeness of life', which corresponds to areté, or
individual worth, or (as I put it in my essay on moq.org) the eudaimonia
which I find to be of high Quality, both static and dynamic. Whereas the
intellectualism of Phaedrus, and the construal of the fourth level as
represented by that character, I find to be sterile, of little interest.
This assumes that a dominantly intellectual person is one dimensional. In
fact, an intellectual might recite poetry or play chess, or prepare haute
cuisine, make love and money, and even skin an ox if necessary. That is,
the dominantly intellectual individual exists atop the other levels, not
apart from them.
IMHO, of course. :-)
I offer my last paragraph above in response to Sam's remaining three.
Best to all,
Mark Steven Heyman (msh)
InfoPro Consulting - The Professional Information Processors
Custom Software Solutions for Windows, PDAs, and the Web Since 1983
Web Site: http://www.infoproconsulting.com
Mark, my Suburu is idling roughly.
Call a mechanic.
You know, for an intellectual, you're not much use.
Being an intellectual doesn't mean you can't adjust a carburetor... it just
means you don't have to.
I'll call my son...
There you go...
Dad, I'm crazy.
You're not crazy. I used to be crazy, but you're not crazy. I know I'm not
the best communicator, but whatever happens to you, whatever shit you come
up against, just be honest, tell the truth, even if they do look at you
funny. They will. They'll call you fool, tell you you're wrong. But
there's something you gotta understand son, and that's that almost all of
those people are full of shit. They're all part of this great big
conspiracy of bullshit. And they're scared of people like you, because
those bullshitters know that you're smarter than all of them. You know what
you say to people like that?
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