LS Some reading of James

Herb Penry (
Sun, 26 Apr 1998 04:35:35 +0100

To whom it may concern:
This is my first response to our interest in Pirsig's writing. I have
been observing your thoughts on the subject-object question.
Till he writes another book, I am getting my philosophy "fix" by reading
from William James. Pirsig had a mistrust of "philosophology", so I
decided to read some "sources". I am now reading Essays in Radical
Empiricism. In the first essay in the series "Does Consciousness Exist",
James tried to make the argument that consciousness is derived form
experience and not distinct form it.
James writes:" As, subjective we say that experience represents; as
objective it is represented...there is no self-splitting of it into
consciousness and what the consciousness if of. Its subjectivity and
objectivity are functional attributes solely, realized only when
experienced is retrospective experience.
I think Pirsig's metaphysics follows the same line of thought. Subjects
and objects are one way of classifying our dynamic experience. Another
interesting passage I found in the same essay was, what I take as, an
indication in the direction of the MOQ. "If one were to make an
evolutionary construction of how a lot of originally chaotic pure
experiences became gradually differentiated into an orderly inner and
outer world, the whole theory would turn upon one's success in
explaining how or why the quality of an experience,once active, could
become less so, and, from being an energetic attribute in some cases,
elsewhere lapse into the status of an inert or merely internal nature.
This would be the evolution of the psychical from the bosom of the
physical, in which the esthetic, moral and otherwise emotional
experiences would represent a halfway stage."
In my reading of James, I have found and interesting account of his
struggle with the criticism of the Victorian values of his time to
establish his philosophy.

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