Re: MF Discussion Topic for May 2005 - individual worth

From: Sam Norton (
Date: Thu Jun 09 2005 - 15:53:43 BST

  • Next message: mark maxwell: "Re: MF Discussion Topic for May 2005 - individual worth"

    Hi Foci,

    After a few weeks being distracted, time to come back to this question. Two
    bits of reminders first. In my original post I quoted ZMM, where the
    Narrator writes:

    "I think it's about time to return to the rebuilding of *this* American
    resource - individual worth. There are political reactionaries who've been
    saying something close to this for years. I'm not one of them, but to the
    extent they're talking about real individual worth and not just an excuse
    for giving more money to the rich, they're right. We *do* need a return to
    individual integrity, self-reliance and old-fashioned gumption. We really

    I am interested in exploring this question of 'individual worth' more
    closely, and how the MoQ addresses the question. Put differently, I want to
    know how the MoQ answers the question "what sort of people should we be?"
    (and how does the MoQ help us become them?) Is there any link between theMoQ
    and "individual integrity, self-reliance and old-fashioned gumption"?

    Part of the answer to that comes from exploring the inter-relationship
    between DQ and the forest of static patterns. So I asked a conceptual
    question: If we accept that a person is a forest of static patterns, how
    does DQ interact with those static patterns?

    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 Phaedrus)?

    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)

    To put that in graphical terms, is it option a:

    L4 ^
    L3 ^
    L2 ^
    L1 ^

    Or option b:

    L4 ->
    L3 -> DQ
    L2 ->
    L1 ->

    Mark SH fed back: It is neither. It's more like this:

    L4 -> DQ
    L3 -> DQ
    L2 -> DQ
    L1 -> DQ

    For my purposes, that counts as option 'b', ie that DQ is available
    _other_than_ through becoming like Phaedrus.

    Now, because saying that last sentence might raise the temperature, and
    because it also raises the questions about Socrates etc - which for the time
    being I want to put to one side - I want to describe option a as 'the Spock
    option', or 'becoming like Spock', and I want to call the second option b
    'the Picard option', or 'becoming like Picard'. (I imagine everyone will
    recognise the references)

    So option a is about maximising the higher level (intellect) so that it
    controls the process. Quality/DQ is maintained, extended and developed
    through the accumulation and refinement of the fourth level static patterns.
    What enables the transcending of, eg, social level thinking is fourth level
    thinking. Individual worth involves maximising the intellectual side, and
    one pursues the path of becoming like Spock. Spock represents the
    understanding of individual worth that is valued, and the metaphysical
    structure of the MoQ delineates the various options and understandings that
    enable the transcending of the lower level, and so one becomes like Spock as
    a result.

    Option b, on the other hand, is about balance and discernment (phronesis).
    In other words, there will be times when, to pursue DQ, the fourth level
    patterns are *less* important than the lower levels. Because the nature of
    the good life, what provides individual worth, is to be found in a harmony
    between the different patterns, and may involve all of them in a creative
    interaction, so individual worth is found in a 'sweet spot' where all the
    different levels harmonise together. Pursuit of intellectual excellence is
    one component of the good life or the worthy person, but it is not the whole
    of a life, and the pursuit of a good life cannot solely involve the
    development of the intellect or other fourth level (manipulation of symbol)


    So: Spock or Picard? In terms of my own values, as I have indicated before,
    I think the Picard option is the right one, and that the Spock option is
    deluded (and philosophically incoherent). Where my qualms about the MoQ come
    in are that I think Pirsig has structured the MoQ along the lines of option
    a, ie Spock, not option b. I think the MoQ can be structured along the lines
    of option b, but I don't think that's what Pirsig had/has in mind.

    But I could be wrong. Any and all thoughts/comments appreciated.


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