LS Re: DQ and Morality

Jonathan B. marder (
Sat, 1 Aug 1998 04:34:50 +0100

Hi Squad, Clark, Diana

Clark wrote:
> Jonathan, I have difficulty with the concept that patterns have no
>existence unless they are perceived. Surely the universe was built up
>made ready for our evolution by patterns that were not perceived since
>there was no sentience around to perceive them. To my mind it is not
>necessary for Quality to be perceived to have morality. I think Quality
>morality and has been in operation since the beginning.

All the laws of science are patterns, but you can't exactly say that
Kepler's law of orbits existed before Kepler himself. As an alternative
to Kepler's equations, one can make a table of space/time co-ordinates
describing the orbit of each planet. But the planets need neither the
co-ordinates nor Kepler to "know" how to move. Another example I've
been thinking about is the arangement of stars as constellations. Did
Orion exist before the Babylonian and Greek astronomers? The
constellation example is good because it makes it clear that the pattern
provides a description of the arrangement of stars, rather than the
stars "obeying" the pattern.

As to the "beginning of time" - well we can extrapolate our SQ
patterns back to then, but the patterns exist NOW and describe what we
understand to have happened THEN.

>The higher levels of DQ are more aesthetic. By which I mean anything
>from physical pleasure to intellectual satisfaction. Scientifically
>there's no way to measure aesthetics so science (in general) decides not
>to deal with them. But empirically, at the level of the individual we
>have no trouble at all in comparing experiences aesthetically. You and I
>are doing it right now. We might not agree on the outcome but we can
>agree that we like one intellectual idea better than another.

I fully agree with "aesthetic" evaluation of scientific ideas. Good
scientists have intuition and a good aesthetic sense! My essay in the
is mostly on this subject.

I wrote:
>> You can put it down to my own lack of comprehension, but Pirsig never
>> explained the [higher morailty of DQ over SQ] to my satisfaction.

Diana replied:
>Okay, so, if you could explain which bit you're not satisfied with we
>could take it further.
>At the end of chap 12 he writes:
>"So what Phaedrus was saying was that not just life but everything, is
>an ethical activity. It is nothing else. When inorganic patterns of
>reality create life the Metaphysics of Quality postulates that they've
>done so because it's 'better' and that this definition of 'betterness'
>-- this beginning response to Dynamic Quality -- is an elementary unit
>of ethics upon which all right and wrong can be based."

What bothers me about this is that in the end it boils down to
tautology. DQ is "better" because it leads to change or evolution.
Anything that fails the "better" test fails to survive. It's the same of
Darwin's "survival of the fittest". How are they the fittest? Because
they survive. So it comes down to survival of the survivors - tautology.

In another thread Diana brings up "Dharma"

>Then Keith said that Dynamic Quality takes on the role that undefined
>Quality had prior to the division. This is the way I had always thought
>of it and it fits to a certain extent. But when you try and add morality
>into the equation, it doesn't to fit. And the more you try and do it the
>bigger a headache you'll get;-)
>Well I think the answer is in chapter 30.
>In chap 30 (and I strongly encourage everyone to reread this very
>carefully) Pirsig acknowledges this conflict between dynamic and static
>morality and offers rta (arete) or Dharma as the solution.

Pirsig wrote
    "A chair, for example, is not composed of
     atoms of substance, it is composed of
        This statement is absolute jabberwocky
     to a conventional subject-object
     metaphysics. How can a chair be
     composed of individual little moral
     orders? But if one applies the
     Metaphyisics of Quality and sees that a
     chair is an inorganic static pattern and sees
     that all static patterns are composed of
     value and that value is synonymous with
     morality, then it all begins to make sense."

According to this, something which lacks moral value doesn't exist.
IMMORALITY DOESN'T EXIST! Thus, IMO Pirsig spends a lot of time talking
about morality, but falls short of providing a basis for determining
ethical behaviour.


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