LS Re: The SOM Construct of Space

Ant McWatt (
Thu, 2 Apr 1998 13:37:55 +0100

"Within nothingness there is a great working"
 (from the Zen master, Kategiri Roshi).

Hi Donny,

Thanks for your quick reply and the paste of Kant`s time
paradox; in the following I`ll try to add a few things to
support what I said in my last e-mail to you.

> On Sun, 29 Mar 1998, Ant McWatt wrote:
> > Do you see the problem of taking the concepts of "knower"
> > and "known" as literal truths yet?
> Well duh. :) I think I said myself that the idea of Budhism,
> trncendental mysticism, and (to some extent also) German Idealism is to
> eleminate the I-That distinction and realize *Tat Twam Assi* (that thou
> art). Hegel for instents sets out to prove that the knower and what it
> knows, what stands over against it, are one and the same. Kant sets out to
> unify the manifold (the "many-ness") of experience and colapse it into a
> single "Being."
> Now, as I also indicated, our functioning is dependent on some
> I-that distinction -- that's how we encounter the world.

If you are Kant. If you are Pirsig you start with
immediate experience; you, I, It, time, space etc come

I`ve never seen any conclusive psychological proof to
support Kant that we come into the world with the "a
priori" concepts of space and time already present. If you
can cite a modern psychologist/s (with convincing evidence)
who are certain that a newly born baby already has these
concepts A PRIORI, please do.

Moreover, even if you can, this argument still seems to be
sliding into SOM assumptions that there is a REAL
physical space and time "out" there.

> That's the realm
> of *maya* -- time-space. So a "true" state of *Tat Twam Assi* would zip us
> off to Nirvana and/or the funny farm.
> > "I have thought about Bell`s theorem and what it might mean
> > for the MOQ and so far have concluded that this theorem is
> > just more of the same subject-object mess. "Local" and
> > "non-local" presume a physical space. Physical space is a
> > subjective intellectual pattern which is presumed to to
> > correspond to an objective inorganic pattern.
> How the hell do you have a *pattern* w/o space-time? I
> mean think about that. A pattern is a rhythm, a
> reppatition, either through time or accross space. Come
> on, that's what the bloody word means.

Again, Donny you are taking the SOM view that there is a
REAL physical space and time "out" there. For my recent
MOQ paper I defined patterns as "repeated regular or
logical forms of order" or "methodical and/or harmonious

I previously used the definition that a value pattern is a
"repeated arrangement of an existing thing". Pirsig
commented on this definition thus:

"The phrase "repeated arrangement of an existing thing"
tends to bring subject-object metaphysics into the picture.
It suggests that the "thing", that is, the OBJECT, is
producing the patterns of value rather than the patterns of
value producing the thing. In the MOQ it is better to say
a "thing" is a repeated arrangement of a pattern of value."

(letter to Anthony McWatt, January 2nd 1998)

> These
> > patterns are so entrenched they are some of the last to
> > disappear during the enlightenment process, but before pure
> > Dynamic Quality is understood they must go.
> Well that's what I've said, too. StaticQ is concrete -- it's IN
> time-space.

Remember, time and space are static intellectual patterns
> DQ is not. That also means, however that it's not a thing;
> it's literaly nothing at all, as P goes on to address bellow:
> The
> > "nothingness" of Buddhism has nothing to do with the
> > "nothingness" of physical space. That`s one of the
> > advantages in calling it "Quality" instead of
> > "nothingness". It reduces the confusion".
> >
> > (letter to Anthony McWatt, June 1st 1996)

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha (oh no, it`s that evil, meglomaniacal
laughter again but no-one else is around. I think that stay
in that Funny Farm is starting to look good....)

Donny, Pirsig does not think DYNAMIC QUALITY IS LITERALLY
NOTHING; hopefully THIS following quote shows you why:

"The Dynamic reality that goes beyond words is the constant
focus of Zen teaching. Because of their habituation to a
world of words, philosophers do not often understand Zen.
When philosophers have trouble understanding the
distinction between static and Dynamic Quality it can be
because they are trying to include and subordinate all
Quality to thought patterns. The distinction between
static and Dynamic quality is intended to block this."

"`Patterned` and `unpatterned` might work as well except
that `unpatterned` suggests that there is nothing there and
all is quiet. There is nothing in the sense of no `thing`,
that is, `no object`, and the Buddhists use nothingness in
this way, but the term Dynamic is more in keeping within
the quotation, "Within nothingness there is a great
working", from the Zen master, Kategiri Roshi."

"...The logical positivists fundamental error in my opinion
is the assumption that because philosophy is about words it
is therefore about words alone. This is the fallacy of
"devouring the menu instead of the meal". Their common
argumentative tactic is to say that anything they cannot
feed through their little box of linguistic analysis is not
philosophy. But if discussion about "the good" (which is
fundamentally beyond words) is not philosophy then Socrates
was not a philosopher since that was his primary subject."

(letter to Anthony McWatt, August 17th, 1997)

The quote about Dynamic Quality from the Zen master,
Kategiri Roshi "Within nothingness there is a great
working" seems to be the pertinent one here.

> > > And if so, why waste all that paper on
> > > LILA -- what's the point of talking about
> > > evolutionary levels if space and
> > > time don't really exist anyway?...
> Perhaps I should expand upon that thought:
> First come inorganic patterns. They're ridged and confining and Q
> is a movement from ridgidity towards flexability/freedom. So organic-pov's
> develop, but they, too, quickly become ridgid, so to escape those --
> society evolves, and (in order to keep from flying apaart) social norms/
> patterns/rules/etc. form. So we go on to the "intellectual" realm, but in
> order to last it must have some kind of rules (reason, objectivity,
> whatever...) but that's too ridged so we go on to this direct, intuitive
> "post-intellectual," "post-verbal" *huntch* -- DQ?

All the static patterns of Quality are manifestations of
Dynamic Quality so the above is not strictly accurate.

> (Now that's my understanding and if I'm wrong there then I have
> severly misread; plese correct me.)
> Now, isn't it clear as Christmass that the above picture of the
> world is *riddled* w/ tempreal lingo. "First...then...and so..." They are
> *evolutionary* levels, and the point of calling something "evolutionary"
> is to say it improves over... (yes) TIME!
> So, on the one hand P afirms that reality is a transendental unity
> (like the Upanishads and the Buddha)... but then he turns around and gives
> an explanation of (scientific) time-space experience.
> (Hmmmmm... What is going on here?)...

> Time fasinates me.

Same here.

> It seems to me to be the ultimate explanadum
> (that which is to be explained) of metaphysics, for: The one who gets to
> say what counts as a cheeker-board, also gets to say what counts as a
> checker! We ASSUME that time = the mathimatically intelligable time of
> science, but that is unprovable, for, after all, for a scientific proof to
> be any good that's what time has to be.

That`s a good point, Donny. However, time is not the
foundation for the MOQ, Dynamic Quality is. Time is merely
one intellectual concept over which Dynamic Quality has
priority (as you were inferring with one of the above

You can NOT combine both evolution and Dynamic Quality
within the same system of THOUGHT and show that they are
contradictory. Dynamic Quality is OUTSIDE any system of
thought, including the MOQ. As the MOQ is an intellectual
system it can only recognise Dynamic Quality`s existence;
it can not contain it. Evolution is an intellectual static
pattern so Dynamic Quality is outside this as well.

> Kant and Aristolte get a lot of flak around here, and I think
> they're both being misrepresented.

Despite the above question, I do have a lot of time for
Kant. For all his faults, he seems to be one of the first
philosophers to ask HOW we perceive which was a new way of
looking at things. Generally, I don`t like reading
Aristotle but I thought his book on "Rhetoric" was a good
read, especially his comments on the differences between
young, middle-aged and old men.

I suppose with any of these philosophers (Pirsig included)
you`ve got to read them for yourself and then make your own
mind-up about them.

Speak to you soon, Donny.

Best Wishes,


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