LS Re: Explain the subject-object metaphysics

Donald T Palmgren (
Sat, 18 Apr 1998 05:57:27 +0100

On Sat, 18 Apr 1998, Diana McPartlin wrote:

> Well of course open LILA at a random page to see how often he "leaves
> behind" the subject-object metaphysics! LILA proposes a new paradigm of
> reality and argues that it is better than the existing one. As the
> existing one is implicit rather than explicit it must first be made
> explicit so that it can be rejected. If you don't do that people will
> simply try to impose the Metaphysics of Quality on top of the
> subject-object metaphysics without realizing it.

        But it's far from *completly* implicit because Pirsig is not the
first one to call attention to it.

> " I am whatever I don't encounter, for I am what's doing the
> encountering. "
> There are various opinions as to how far the subject-self extends
> (Pirsig isn't entirely clear about this). Whether it is all thought or
> merely the entitiy that thinks the thoughts, but that's not what
> matters. The point is that the boundary exists somewhere. As long as
> there is a "me" and an everything else, the philosophy is based on the
> subject-object metaphysics.

        I think that Pirsig's S-O "dichotomy" is really more of a broad
gesture -- "generaly these things." I don't think you'll find any
narrow deffinition of what SOM is -- and that's the reason behind the
"straw man" accusation. They don't like P because P isn't percise about
what he's calling SOM (them).
        Underneath all the various dichotomies is the I-This (though, as
I said you can't force fit the other dicotomies into this one w/o
bending and mangalling them). But that's the assumption (IMHO): that
there is a me and that I stand apart from all that (the world). And
besides, P is no idiot; that is what "subject" and "object" normally DO
mean in Phil. Even if P unconsciously conflates the words, I'm sure he's
aware of what they bassicaly mean: knower-known.
        Now, if you agree that this is what P means, then you have to
give up the idea that P and his "MoQ" is the first or only significant
break away from SOM. MOST os Eastern phil. is about collapsing the S-O
distinction. A lot (but not all) of what's called Idealism in the West
is also an attack on SOM. So Pirsig's got company in The Buddha, Kant,
LaoTzu, Hegel, and a host of others -- NOT that they all propose the
same solution, but that they all see the same problem.
        Now is that fair enough?

        Pirsig tells us in the opening of ZMM, 'this book doesn't have
much to do w/ the actual tradition of Zen Buddhism,' but I always feel
like he's being a bit disingenuous here. I don't think we should take
completly at face value there.

                                TTFN (ta-ta for now)

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