[MD] kill all intellectual patterns

118 ununoctiums at gmail.com
Sat Dec 1 23:54:35 PST 2012

On Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 9:32 AM, ARLO JAMES BENSINGER JR <ajb102 at psu.edu>wrote:

> [Arlo]
> "The MOQ" is Pirsig's teachings. The phrases "The MOQ teaches..." and
> "Pirsig teaches..." are the same, Mark. If you want to expand out and use
> "the MOQ" to refer to a larger field of related theories of which Pirsig is
> but one voice (e.g. like "pragmatism"), this statement still makes no
> sense, because at this point what other voices than Pirsig do you refer to
> when you say "the MOQ teaches"? Do you mean Dan (with LILA's Child)? Ant
> (with his thesis)? DMB (with his thesis)? Granger (with his book)? DiSanto
> (with his book)? I'm going to ask for some precision here and ask you to
> stop using the term "The MOQ" and specifically use the people behind the
> ideas you are talking about; say "Pirsig's ideas" or "Dan's ideas" or
> "Ant's ideas", or "my ideas" or "Hagen's ideas"... etc. (E.g., among
> mathematicians I imagine its common to hear "chaos theory teaches..." but
> for each point I'm sure they can point out who introduced each specific
> idea, when it was introduced, and how it has b
>  een accepted or argued by others in the field, and the others- by name-
> who were part of any evolution the idea took.)

OK, it can stick with what Pirsig teaches.  But I have not seen him around
teaching, have you?  MoQ was never meant to be a binding model; Pirsig has
too much distaste of metaphysics to allow that.  The levels are trivial,
and not required to understand Quality.  In fact these levels seem to have
led many astray, when they support these things as truths.  Pirsig could
have used things other than levels or DQ/SQ to describe Quality.  What is
important is what he is trying to present with these analogies.

MoQ describes a manner of looking at the world that is very personal.  One
cannot understand Quality until one makes it their primary method for
making sense of things.  MoQ can lead a person to Quality awareness.  Back
in the '70s we did not need Lila to understand what Quality was.  Quality
is NOT all those examples that Pirsig presents.  It was never meant to be.
 What I find is that MoQ is treated like some game of reasoning.  Seeing
things as Quality comes before the reasoning.  The reasoning only presents
the results of such Quality awareness, in my opinion.  At least that is how
it works for me.

> [Mark]
> I fully understand what Pirsig has said, and I disagree with dmb's claim
> that Quality cannot be discussed.  Pirsig would disagree too since he
> discusses Quality in two books.
> [Arlo]
> I haven't read back through all your exchanges, and DMB can speak for
> himself, but my guess would be that what 'can't be discussed' is Dynamic
> Quality, in the sense that it is prior to discussion, prior to intellectual
> patterns, and (as you yourself said) can only be approached through the use
> of analogy. By definition, Dynamic Quality is indefinable but known
> immediately.

This does not sound very logical,   DQ is a term which Pirsig created.  How
would you know it is prior to discussion?  We are not talking about a God
or creator here.  We are talking about Quality.  So Pirsig created the term
DQ, and somehow it existed before that?  He created this term to give us
something to think about, not to squirrel away in a mystical closet.  Why
else would he have brought it up?  I like your "by definition, Quality is
indefinable".  Nice touch, sounds like a paradox.  DQ does not exist as
some thing separate that can be known, that is SQ.

> Pirsig's first book talked about Quality, but only to move it from an
> external object of discussion to the immediate point from where both the
> subject and the object would emerge. Its an oblique approach, and indeed it
> has to be, or else it falls apart. Pirsig's second book draws a separation
> between what is beyond definition (DQ) and what is defined (SQ). "The MOQ",
> which he calls his ideas, is a discussion of SQ within the larger DQ/SQ
> metaphysical system.

In my opinion, what is presented in MoQ are examples of how Quality can be
used to resolve questions (and I know you have issue with this that I will
address below).  It is a technique, not SQ.  If one bumps into a tree in
the dark, that tree is immediately defined by the bump.  We create the
experience of the bump, and thus SQ.  SQ is more than a dictionary
definition.  DQ is everything that is not SQ.  We create experience from
input.  Our body/brains are constructed in such a way that certain
experiences result.  Some of the experience is in the form of words, but
most is not.  Our bodies define things by creating patterns, and much of
that is outside of the intellect.  DQ therefore lies outside of experience
(defining).  DQ has had many names throughout the ages.  DQ/SQ is the
traditional manner in presenting a world and another world right beside it.
 The spiritual/material for example.

> In this sense, DQ is not 'part of the discussion', it is what 'guides' or
> 'informs' or 'structures' or 'moves' the discussion towards 'betterness' or
> 'excellence'. If you want to make DQ itself an object of discussion, I
> think your claim to 'fully understand' Pirsig is severely in error.

Well, I am glad you ARE discussing it as you did just above.  See, it is
not hard to discuss.  You are rather vague, but at least that is a start.
 Believe me, philosophers spend a lot of time discussing such things.  All
it takes is practice.  It is silly to say that DQ is not part of the
discussion, that is half of Quality, half of MoQ. I do like your definition

> I'm unsure what value you think would be in setting aside the static
> intellectual pattern "the MOQ" and instead talking about DQ. What is it
> that you want to say about DQ? Do you want to talk about which analogies
> you like (e.g. we should say "process" rather than "force")? And, of course
> "the MOQ" is an analogy, its not an external object or a fixed reality. But
> you seem to think this makes coherence, clarity and precision surrounding
> it somehow unimportant. Just as there is excellence/art in mechanical
> repair, there is excellence/art in metaphysics. DMB's continuance in
> bridging Pirsig with James is a part of that overall 'movement' towards
> that excellence, and as was said, is an excellence Pirsig acknowledges.

I do not want to set aside SQ, I want to include DQ.  I have provided many
analogies using logic.  For example, DQ is "free will", DQ is "the self",
DQ is "the present moment", DQ is "creativity", and many more.  DQ can be
explained in many ways.  Remember, this is not about truth, this is about
providing awareness.  Truth gets in the way of such rhetoric, truth is a
function of dialectic according to Pirsig.  We can say that SQ is the
experience we create, or that it is a projection of ours.  What else can we
say about SQ proper?  Perhaps you have some things to say about SQ.  What
is SQ?  Why is it important to understand SQ in order to understand Quality?

> [Arlo]
> Let me restate this, "When dmb interprets Pirsig's ideas, he does so in a
> completely literal fashion, which means he has mistaken Pirsig's ideas for
> Quality."
> I doubt very much anyone would mistake a person's ideas for "Quality".
> What he appropriately does (IMO) is take Pirsig's ideas for what they are,
> static intellectual patterns of value, and pursues them with an eye towards
> what amounts to 'excellence' as applied to intellectual patterns; clarity,
> cohesion, precision, etc.
> OK, maybe that was not clear.  Remember when Pirsig writes that a
metaphysics is degenerate?  This is because it is simply made out of words.
 How can words replace reality?  Pirsig uses the words he does in his best
attempt to explain to us what he is aware of as Quality.  These are not
ideas, these are direct descriptions of Quality, and the format he uses it
to provide examples of what Quality does to certain arguments.   It is from
the viewpoint of Quality that new ideas come.  Pirsig could have presented
any number of ideas.  It's not the ideas that matter, it is the fundamental
basis of those ideas that does.

This is why I ask questions of Quality.  I want to use what other people
present to brings myself more into Quality.  Dmb may be very good in the
academic area, but he doesn't tell me anything fundamental about Quality.
 He doesn't present anything new for me, for that matter.  I don't think
Lila is that hard to understand, once I read it for a third time :-).

> MoQ is a presentation of a manner of using Quality to interpret reality.
> [Arlo]
> The only response I think I can make to this is "yikes". First (I think),
> Pirsig is not "using Quality to interpret reality". For Pirsig, Quality IS
> 'reality'. "Interpretations" come later, in the form of static quality,
> such as his metaphysics.

I would say "yikes" back to you.  What does it mean that Quality IS
Reality?  Why simply choose another word for Reality?  I could retort by
saying that "NO, Reality IS Quality and say perhaps more.  Pirisg means
something by Quality doesn't he?  He has a different way of approaching
Reality.  This is what he is trying to convey.  Lila is full of examples of
how Quality can be used to solve problems.    It is not very convincing to
say that Quality is Reality.  That statement says little.  Reality does not
just include the intellectual aspects of our participation.  To say that
Quality is Reality is saying that Reality is intellectual.  I don't think
this is correct.

> [Mark]
> But let me ask you, Arlo, how would you describe DQ?  Please be rational
> in your description.
> [Arlo]
> DQ is prior to description, it is prior to definition, it is (analogously)
> something like the immediate moment of experience. Although below, in ZMM,
> Pirsig uses the words "romantic quality" and "classical quality", and he
> points out in LILA how those terms do not map directly to "dynamic Quality"
> and "static quality", I still come back to this passage as a very good
> analogy for DQ/SQ that, I think, anticipated his latter DQ/SQ distinction.

Since we create experience, would you say that we then create DQ?

"Romantic Quality [Dynamic Quality], in terms of this analogy, isn't any
> "part" of the train. It's the leading edge of the engine, a two-dimensional
> surface of no real significance unless you understand that the train isn't
> a static entity at all. A train really isn't a train if it can't go
> anywhere. In the process of examining the train and subdividing it into
> parts we've inadvertently stopped it, so that it really isn't a train we
> are examining. That's why we get stuck.

 I liked the romantic/classical Quality, I thought it was a good use of
rhetoric.  It demonstrates how different people can see reality differently.

I would say we only get stuck if we do not create the right manner of
explaining, or if we are thinking in terms of Truths.  It is so easy to
point to a paradox, and harder to explain what it means.  Rhetoric brings
awareness, and such a thing is never "stopped".  This is why we cannot
subsist on the literal of which Pirsig presents.  If we say that DQ
actually IS something we are lost.  That is all he is saying.   he says
don't worry about these statements being truths that can be destroyed by
logic.  What he is saying is that DQ cannot be pointed to, only described.
 Many philosophies deal with this concept successfully.

> The real train of knowledge isn't a static entity that can be stopped and
> subdivided. It's always going somewhere. On a track called Quality. And
> that engine and all those 120 boxcars [static quality[ are never going
> anywhere except where the track of Quality takes them; and romantic Quality
> [dynamic Quality], the leading edge of the engine, takes them along that
> track." (ZMM, LILA terms added with noted caution)

Yes, it is a good analogy.   DQ could also be described as Creativity which
is the leading edge for everything we create whether intellectually or
outside of that.  Whether the train, or creativity works for the reader
depends on his/her constituency.   By creating the romantic/classical
distinction, he showed that both can result in the same Zen awareness.  It
is just as easy to be part of a technical manual as it is to be a part of
music.  He is trying to bring the classical (objective) attitude back into
the fold.

> [Mark]
> Please explain to me what you mean by SOM.  So far as I can tell, this is
> a DQ/SQ analogy.  On one side we have the objective, and on the other side
> the subjective.  How is the West infected by this?
> [Arlo]
> Western culture (post Aristotle, according to Pirsig) is a trajectory of
> oscillating understandings that have considered, for the most part,
> 'reality' to be something either entirely fixed and independent and
> 'out-there', something we merely passively respond to, or something
> entirely fictional, non-existent and 'in-here', something that is entirely
> mental. These two competing but dialogically-revolving views became, to
> varying degrees, the 'norm' understanding for people, and as such has been
> reflected in their activity. 'Scientism' (as I think you call it) is one
> reflection of the "O" arm in culture, 'relativism' is one reflection of the
> "S" arm. But this has been, as Pirsig noted, not simply a ephemeral,
> abstract 'concept' held by people, but it has influenced political,
> economic, and social practices. "The funeral march" of cars on the highway,
> mentioned in ZMM, the mechanics with no identity with their trade, the
> vendors of style, an overall alientation between 'self' an
>  d 'world'.
> What Pirig noticed was that these ideas were not just abstract concepts
> people talked about, but they had real consequences and real effects
> throughout the entirety of the culture.

OK, that makes sense to me.  I would call this "Objectified Reality".  For
me SOM implies that there is the objective world, and the subjective world.
 What has caused the funeral march of cars is the complete objectification
of Reality, in the that subject is lost.  We refer to ourselves in the
third person.  We claim we know what we are, through the use of the
intellect.  This is wrong, because first we ARE, then we create things
intellectually.  The knowing who we are is only part of who we are, a small
part at that.  The famous saying "I think therefore I am" had it exactly

> [Mark]
> What Pirsig is condemning is the complete objectification of reality.
> [Arlo]
> And on the other hand the complete subjectification of 'reality' as well.
> In fact, his solution was to say that Quality precedes subjects and
> objects, that it is the ongoing stimulus from which subjects and objects
> mutually emerge.

I am not sure if you are using the term "subjects" here as an object.  The
subject cannot be pointed to, it cannot be found.  Quality
cannot precede subjects, since it is we who express it.  I think you are
putting the cart before the horse.  I think I may have a skewed view of
what SOM is, and I will try to use it in the manner you do.

> [Arlo]
> This is long, I'm ending here and hoping it passes the filters. If you
> think I skipped a critical point, let me know.

Thanks for the discussion.  All I have are my opinions.  I am not
interested in Truth.  I appreciate what you wrote since it made me think.

All the best,

> Moq_Discuss mailing list
> Listinfo, Unsubscribing etc.
> http://lists.moqtalk.org/listinfo.cgi/moq_discuss-moqtalk.org
> Archives:
> http://lists.moqtalk.org/pipermail/moq_discuss-moqtalk.org/
> http://moq.org/md/archives.html

More information about the Moq_Discuss mailing list