RE: MF Discussion Topic for May 2005 - individual worth

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sat May 28 2005 - 21:06:42 BST

  • Next message: Matt Kundert: "Re: MF Discussion Topic for May 2005 - individual worth"

    Mark, Sam and all Focusers:

    On May 17, Sam Norton asked:
    Is DQ just on the top, ie you have to ascend up the levels to get to
    the DQ (and therefore, presumably, become like the LILA character

    dmb says:
    In terms of a human life, I think that's a good way to think about it, as a
    spiritual and/or developmental goal. Its like the whole static thing has to
    unfold and mature before it can be transcended. There is the idea of the
    infant as experiencing a kind of pre-static DQ. There are no patterns, or
    very few, to be transcended. The static world is still forming and is not
    yet ripe for such things. But as we mature and static patterns are built up,
    they shape and define our world. And I think that transcending this static
    forms does not mean their rejection, destruction or abandonment. Its more
    like remembering what you once knew. And I wouldn't be too fussy about
    mastering any particular forms nor would I like to suggest that
    enlightenment is only available to an elite group of world-class talents.
    Its just that growth depends on health. There are, I suppose, certain basic
    requirements in the developmental process. Even in those cases where such
    realization come suddenly, there was something about that life that had

    Sam continued:
    Or is DQ the product of the interaction of the various levels (along
    the lines of Mark Maxwell's 'sweet spot' imagery) - and therefore the
    pursuit of DQ involves the enhancement of all the levels in different
    and mutually reinforcing ways? (and therefore we aren't obliged to
    become like the LILA character Phaedrus)

    dmb says:
    I don't think we can say DQ is a product of anything. I think its more a
    matter of making the static world invisible or transparent. Artist,
    athletes, motorcycles mechanics, house painters and just about everyone else
    knows about that zone we get it. When we get a feel for the work it becomes
    so engaging that all effort and struggle disappears. When we're totally into
    it, we disappear. You that that zone? That's what I mean by transparency.
    Its not that the paint brush or wrench is indistinguisable from your hand or
    your intentions, its just that noticing those distinctions will only get in
    the way and slow you down. I've done some house painting and there were
    times I was not really there. Once in a while that even happens while I'm
    writing posts here. Personally, the phrase 'Sweet spot' conjures up images
    of tennis rackets and golf clubs, of wacking things with sticks, of country
    clubs and competitive sports. So that phrase never quite worked for me. I'm
    thinking about a mode of consciousness wherein all the various elements
    involved are working together as if they were parts of a whole. I think this
    is at least one of the ideas in Pirsig's imagery. Obviously, motorcycles and
    sailboats are such unified strutures. And so are we.

    Sam said to msh:
    ....I don't think it's tenable to say that the MoQ doesn't 'enthrone'
    Socrates as a martyr, and therefore hold him up as someone to be
    emulated, in contrast to the presentation of him in ZMM, where he
    was clearly NOT to be emulated.

    msh replied with his explication of this seeming idolization:
    "The battle for science (or Socratic philosophy) to free itself from
    the restrictions of social-dominated thought was a moral battle
    because social domination was threatening intellectual survival.
    What the MOQ says is, OK, the threat is past, so now let's catch
    our breath and apply unfettered intellect to the split between
    society and science. When we do, we see that not everything about
    social restrictions is negative, and the positive elements should be
    incorporated into our newly-freed intellectual understanding of the

    dmb says:
    Right. The intellect's political struggle for independence is a moral one,
    but it also created some problems. One is a kind of disregard for social
    level values and the other is the mistaken notion that intellect was born
    without parents. These are the two big mistakes that the MOQ seeks to
    address. The Phaedrus of LILA depicts this alienation of intellect from
    society and Richard Rigel represents the social level types who are so angry
    and upset about the disregard and disrespect they sense from intellectuals.
    And this is why Pirsig explains the problem with 20th century intellectuals
    taking sides with biology., putting the social level in the crossfire. And
    the bit about being born without parents is addressed too. This is where the
    "linguaistic turn" fits into the picture. This is essentially the
    recognition that langauge, which has evolved as a social level sturucture
    for tens of thousands of years, is what provides us with the capactity for
    intellect and shapes our intellect to a very great extent. That's why French
    culture has to exist before Descartes can think and therefore be sure of his
    existence. This is where the notion that all our ideas are suspended in
    language, that all our understandings are derived from our cultural context.
    All this and more is Pirsig pointing out that the intellectual most
    certainly does have parents. There is even a passage where he points out
    that enlightenment science is very good at including the biological senses
    in mediating our knowledge, but was totally lacking when it came to
    mediation through the social level. In the quest for independence from the
    social level, the intellect became alienated and disassociated. Instead of
    growing up and making a home of her own, this child tried to kill her
    parents or deny their existence. But that's only because the parents were
    trying to kill her or prevent her from growing up. And of course we are
    talking about a spiritual and psychological split within ourselves and
    within our culture. This is the crisis behind those hurricanes and earth
    quakes. Its making people crazy, you know? It has people picking sides. Its
    what keeps people from being well-integrated machine, it causes war and
    social upheavel. Its a huge rift.

    msh continued:
    So intellectual value (truth) is recognized in some social level
    patterns. But if you're not convinced by this, here's something else
    to consider: Socrates (Plato) insists that truth stands alone, apart
    from social considerations; and yet, in LILA, Dusenberry's method of
    determining anthropological truth, by emersing himself in the culture
    he's studying rather than maintaining a SOM-Science objectivity, is
    found by Phaedrus to be highly valuable. So, Dusenberry's MOQ-
    Science method, which contradicts Socrates, is embraced by the
    Metaphysics of Quality! QEFnD.

    dmb says:
    Right, and beside the multi-pronged assertion that intellect does indeed
    have parents, parents that deserve some respect, there is a "patterns of
    culture" theme running throughout the book, even tracing some of the
    enlightenment's central ideas to social values that had been absorbed from
    Indian culture. Overall, one gets the idea that language and culture furnish
    all of the pre-requisites for intellect. Personally, I think of the richness
    and complexity of the mythological world, multiply that by several factors
    fiquring that language and power structures and such are equally rich and
    complex and then conclude that the social level is a deep, deep well that
    intellect has only begun to explore. Or, if you prefer, intellect is like an
    inch-deep layer of fresh water on top of an ocean. And so it is with us. It
    seems to me that most of what we are is very ancient compared to intellect
    and yet we go around as if intellect is running the show all by itself. I
    can't quite put my finger on it, but it seems there is a connection between
    this isolated subjective ego of individuals and the whole intellectual level
    as an alienated orphan. Two sides of the same coin. A world view that splits
    the self from itself. Something like that. I mean, it seems like there is a
    single sickness with lots of various symptoms. And maybe the very idea of
    the individual, or at least a CERTAIN idea of the individual, is part of
    that sickness. Not that individuals are given too much worth, exactly. Too
    much weight and emphasis is given so that the roots and connections are
    ignored so that the importance placed upon individuality ends up cutting
    people off from each other and from the world. Individuals then become
    strangers, even to themselves.

    Sorry. I'm trying to describe a fracture that runs through individuals and
    through the culture. I see it as one and the same line, but its hard to get
    the idea across clearly.

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