[MD] Pirsig's Honorary Doctorate

X Acto xacto at rocketmail.com
Sun Dec 23 08:17:02 PST 2012

I was really struck this week by the deep contrasts in posts regarding the nature of Quality.
While some here would argue that Quality has no nature at all and that the idea of 
"not this, not that" has more clarity and precision in meaning than the idea "undefined betterness",
I would ask that we explore the consequences of these two deeply contrasting conceptions
of just what the overall aim of our metaphysics indeed IS.
This week David Buchanan posted a commencement speech in which the speaker invoked what
he saw as the overall aim of Pirsigs metaphysic:
"We need to get the ceremony or the ritual correct. We need to get the rite right, right?  in order for it to do its work of creating what is memorable and what is best. And now we are in the shadow of quality---to the Greeks “arete”----what is excellent, a ritual well performed or, most simply,  what is well done. "
-Commencement Talk 2012-- by Regent Professor Michael Sexson (He was also the Master of Ceremonies for MSU's Chautauqua 2012).
                “The Right Rite”
Which would seem to coincide with the ancient greek conception that "the good" is best pursued
via knowledge, as Aristotle writes:
"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is
thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly
been declared to be that at which all things aim."
This , as it would seem, is our "undefined betterness" some good at which
all things aim. But it would seem that Art, to the ancient greeks would hold
a high place in this aim because art aims with both act and product at the good and as
Regent Professor Michael Sexson would add what is most worthy of remembering.
Contrasting this aim is the concept of "not this not that" which is most traditionally
a reactionary response to physicalism or objectivism where one believes that
quality lies within the objects of perception, but to apply this to our metaphysic
as our overall aim results in consequences so contrary and counter to the aim
of excellence and virtue that the results are the kind of nihlism and relativism
that our culture currently suffers from, that "value-less" state of not caring
for or against anything what so ever that inspired Robert Pirsig to write to
begin with.
I believe, to suppose "not this, not that" is the true aim of Robert Pirsigs
metaphysic, is to profoundly misunderstand both the aim of Robert Pirsigs
work and the aim of Zen and the resulting consequences are so dire as to
be polar opposite to Proffessor Sextons' statement regarding what RMP
would say:
"If Robert Pirsig were here today, he probably would not advise the class of 2012 to conquer worlds, acquire possessions, achieve status.  That’s not what these books, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila,  are about. He would probably say what the woman watering her plants said to him, “Are you pursuing quality,”
I dont think Robert Pirsig meant "are you pursuing nothing" 
are you pursuing valueless-ness? are you pursuing meaningless-ness?
are you pursuing no-thing what so ever? are you pursuing no-mind?
That would make for a rather poor graduation speech where words of
wisdom are usually sought, rather:
Are you pursuing better-ness? are you pursuing excellence?
"Do not think about what is new but what is best"
Wise words.

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