LS Re: The Lila Squa

Bodvar Skutvik (
Thu, 2 Apr 1998 13:38:02 +0100

Dear Lila Squad.
Not to smother you in Bo-postings I must make a cumulative letter.

You wrote:

> This debate is, I suspect, the first of many that will be directed
> toward MoQ and those of us in the Lila Squad who wish to see MoQ
> succeed as the successor to SOM are going to have a fight on our
> hands. SOM has 2500 years of momentum on its side. MoQ is barely out
> of the womb.
> I'd better conclude at this point as this is getting overly long (I
> can almost here some of you snoring). I would like to hear from
> others in LS who feel that this is important and discuss ways in
> which future assaults can be dealt with.

Your piece could have been twice as long, never have I been more awake
than when reading this. I subscribe to every point, and can only add
one thing: The Communitarianism movement has gone me completely by
(since involving myself in the LS I haven't read a single book on
contemporary culture/philosophy!) but if that is what Struan follows
he may have all his wishes fulfilled within the MOQ framework. You
will know that Pirsig is not blind to the needs of "society" - not at
all. Much of the hostile reactions to LILA from the liberals stems
from this - mostly misunderstood - aspect of the MOQ.

I am looking forward to discussing these points of LILA with you in
the future, for now I feel that a bend is rounded in our way ahead.
For a while I thought that you and Struan had a hoax going (you two
obviously knew each other from before) to wake us from our
complacency, but this entry convinces me of your sincerity. I
leave him all to you.

Welcome to the Squad. I can understand how forbidding our discussion
may look to a newbie and again I see the need for a monthly summary of
our proceedings. But don't let yourself be daunted, you will soon
get the picture. If you have points you want to discuss or wish
to tell about your "encounter of the - th kind" with the Quality
idea, please, we are all ears/eyes.

You wrote:
> Please state the exact problem here i.e. why does (the
> Western notion of) mind as intellect raise SERIOUS trouble?

The problem occurs if subjectivism (S of SOM) is imported into the
MOQ as its Intellectual level! The Western notion of mind is the
whole mental-abstract-spiritual-what's not material-realm and if MOQ
adapts SOM's mind as its own Intellectual level, where is
SOM's matter to be placed? As the Inorganic level! But that leaves
Biology and Society without foundation. However, if MIND/MATTER
collectively is seen as Intellect it cleans it all up. Another
consequence of mind as Intellect is that MOQ's assertion of the
higher level's moral preponderance leads to the Kevin problem: Each
mental quirk becomes high moral. A man with a gun who has an impulse
to kill is justified because the "thinks" of doing so, and
Intellectual patterns are highest good. This is clearly absurd.

> What about the Intellectual level in Eastern thinking?
> That isn`t SOM is it?

This is an extremely interesting point. As far as I understand it,
Eastern thinking is NOT an identical twin of the MOQ. The common
arch-quality that the old Greeks changed to subject/object
metaphysics survived as "Eastern tradition" and because it hasn't been
through the SOM phase, it needs no transformation back again. It is
the original intuitive version! They probably don't understand the
SOM point of view and don't call anything mind - or matter for that
sake; only "indifferentiated and differentiated" which is DQ/SQ.
This means that the Eastern Intellectual level (seen through MOQ)
dit not become mind/matterish, but took on another hue (Dharma

And yet I think Western tradition has an advantage for its SOM
detour, if/when the MOQ comes of age it has the benefit of seeing
both sides. Perhaps the East has done so all the time? THAT
issue is enough to fill another year's discussion.

Thanks Anthony for posing these fine-honed questions. Strike back if
this still sounds unclear.

-------------------------------------------- KEN
You wrote:

> Bo, I know how passionate you feel about the Metaphysics of Quality,
> and I know the amount of time and study and thought you have put
> into it but when one gets our ages passions cool and we can show
> forbearance toward the younger ones whose passions are more
> immediate and urgent. I can still remember when I knew everything.
> Even if it does not ultimately answer all of our questions I think
> that the MOQ can help to make us more comfortable in the situation
> that we are caught in without a reasonable recourse. Struan, for my
> part I wish you would reconsider and rejoin the squad. Maybe this
> time you could use a rubber mallet instead of a sledgehammer :+).
> Ken

Sorry for sounding so Jesuitic, but I had to preempt the attack. If
Struan had been given the right to choose the weapon/premises I would
have been easy prey. Anyway he is back and that's fine. Otherwise,
your good points are taken.

First thanks for the "epiphany" info, very useful. Your recent posts
has however started to sound like what gave German post-Kantian
philosophy its bad reputation. Arguments leading nowhere, hot air
with no substance to it except sounding learned. Five letters a day
without even touching the Quality approach Yes, we may have
differerent reasons for coming to this site, but primarily it is to
discuss Pirsig's ideas: or different ways of seeing them - at
least the problems of our time that he confronts. If you prefer Hegel
with no reference to what impact or angle Hegel's ideas has on
Pirsig's . Okay go find some Hegel site.

I give you one assignment: Within the mind/matter model we have the
problem of how mind can influence matter, how your descision to move
a limb gets executet. As long it is a thought it is "just" mind, but
somewhere it crosses the gulf into the matter realm. What is your
opinion. And please no pointless meanderings and funny naming; your
business is clarity isn't it?.

To your "admonishments". I am not sure what you demand? "We are
saved, you are damned"!?. Do you see our attitude as this? It is not
my approach, and definitely not Magnus'. He was the first to tell us
not to sound messiah-like, and very quick to trip me up when he saw a
chance :-). We have had this thing going since September last and has
been in and out of all sorts of twists and loops.

Re your message of ??.
I can't see any fault or misunderstanding of Pirsig in this, it's only
that you don't fully APPLY the MOQ. For instance in your reply to
Kevin I believe you have the CPOW (correct picture of the
world). Kevin ought to have seen Pirsig's pointed question: where did
gravity reside before Newton? But again: ZMM IS NOT THE SOURCE TO
UNDERSTAND THE MOQ. Your deliberations here and the discussion with
Keith about society as the arbiter of truth I accept with the
qualification that your 'society' is the greater cultural sense.

Culture is the Intellectual values collectively, and when we
sit at our respective keyboards Intellect fills reality, but the
moment you rise and someone puts a tack on the chair and you sit on
it, Biology suddenly takes over. Gone are lofty ideas and high ideals,
sensations fills your world! Focus can only highlight one dimension
at a time, but it shifts like the Gestalt Psychology double figure -

Your grasp of Hegel is certainly correct and your rendering
of his view is highly readable (who is GW here?). Hegel is ALMOST
at the Quality solution, but the the SOM 'abstract' as opposed to
'concrete' seeps in. In the MOQ there is no division along these
lines: Abstract is way over at one end of the scale (Intellect) while
concrete is way over at the other end (Matter); there are TWO
dimensions between.

I don't know how to formulate myself not to sound convoluted, but I am
glad to see you back. If you find me the pompous self-appointed
"ideologist" of the LS (my words entirely) you are possibly right, but
once upon the time Pirsig's idea resolved a quandary that threatened
my peace of mind (to say the least) and I cannot but try to repay my
debt - about this I am probably emotivistic and willing to overlook a
few soft spots in LILA. I find Pirsig's achievement so enormous that
it would be superhuman to get everything right at once. It is up to us
to probe the various openings that the MOQ allows.

I accept your value/everything point. As I see it Pirsig chose the
term because it is the weak spot of - if you allow - the
subject/object world view. It is shunned like the plague, but
impossible to get rid of. Also do I accept that the MOQ is dualistic
and that also SOM is a division of everything. P. even calls it a
"quality metaphysics"; it only divides everything differently. Also
that it it was an exaggeration of me to call the Quality idea obvious
witin the LS; it obviously isn't.

If I now infuriate you by sounding so meek I'll even comply with your
Occam argument. The MOQ isn't more economical, but the next criterion
of "explanatory power" it fulfills lightyears ahead of the SOM. I
know that - um - SOM more than anything else would like to see the
the Quality undivided; another Eastern mysticism that the hardheaded
value- and emotionless rationalists could deem harmless NewAgean
religious nonsense, but Phaedrus put his knife upon the fault line of
the mind/matter notion and it split open in a way that - like Humpty
Dumpty - can't be put together again.

See you all

 TO BE IS TO DO (Socrates)
 TO DO IS TO BE (Sartre)
 DO BE DO-BE DO (Sinatra)

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