LS New Age SOM?

Donald T Palmgren (
Fri, 7 Aug 1998 19:24:46 +0100

Sorry Bo,
        I'm going to have to come to Andy's defence here. As
somebody who dearly love's Pirsig's work but has been just as or even
grabed by other writers (Hegel, Joseph Campbell...) I think it is just
fine to want to take these great thinkers and stand them over-against
one-another... And what's more, you don't have to have a "winner" for
crying in the ever loving beer! It has quality if it leads you to some
insight you wouldn't have had otherwise -- an "Ah-ha" experience. We
have to have a shoot-out and see whose left standing, then declair them
right and everyone else wrong. No writer has a monopoly on "Ah-ha's."

        The trend around here seems to be, whatever you don't like you
lable it "SOM" or "SOM-ish" and then say that you can justifyably ignore
it. I fear that if Pirsig knew how that term, "SOM," would come to be
used he'd have never coined the damn thing. Now, I'll give you that some
ideas presented will certainly have a "SOM" slant (though by admision of
your own SOTAQI theory that doesn't mean they lack Quality -- rather you
asign them to the (pen)ultimate level!) but it might be nice if you show
specifically how that is! That way "SOM" doesn't become some dirty-word
lable you slap on ideas.

        As of a couple of months ago almost all of us settled on one of
two possible definitions of "SOM":
        1) Any metaphysical system (which shouldn't be confused w/
"any worldview" -- "Metaphysics" has a specific, disciplined meaning in
philosophy: The study of what it means to "exist"/to "be." "worldview"
is somewhat broader.) which is built
upon the ontological seperatness of I and This, me and not-me,
in-here/out-there, or as Hegel puts it when he took on the dragon 150
years before Pirsig: "various pairs of terms all of which set forth the
opposition spicific to the problem of knowledge: subject and object,
and world, consciousness and its objective correlative, certainty and
truth." (I know this is not exactly how Diana worded it but I
truth." (I know this is not exactly how Diana worded it but I think I'm
saying the same thing.)
        or deffinition 2) A or not-A
        --Which I interpret as meaning: Aristotilian logic, or what Joe
Campbell calls "the logic of the daylight world" (to set apart from
"dream logic" in which A turns into not-A and, in truth, all of it = to
you [the dreamer] ultimatly). In other words, any pairs of opposites
(right/wrong, true/false, mind/body, past/present, male/female,
master/slave...) all of which *appear* to exist in the realm of *maya*
ultimatly, ontologicaly are trancended by Absolute Unity of Quality (or
Tao or Brahman or Dharma or whatever label you hang on it).
        (And, for the record, I think Deffinition #2 does play a part in
MoQ because MoQ ultimatly is a monism [all is one], but I think it's off
the mark from what Pirsig means by "SOM" -- three words w/ very spicific
meanings in philosophy.)

        So, when you accuse something of being SOM kindly show HOW it
those definitions. This will be a lot more usefull to us. I mean,
you have talked about New Age as SOM?? Or did I get you wrong? From
everything I've heard about New Age it most certainly is not SOM -- it
adhears to neither definition I've listed above. Now, like you, I find
New Age to be of very low Intelectual (and Social) Quality and have
use for it. But I'm not going to dismiss it as "SOM-ish"... beacuse
        In regard to droping the S-O distinction, you claim "it is this
fundamental chess opening that sets Pirsig's system apart from
anything previous thought." Useing EITHER of the two definitions above
for SOM that is clearly not a defencable position, and I'm sure you know
that. I mean, w/ Kant, the idea was that the subject would come to
recognize itself in the object. And then Hegel completed the move,
saying that not only must the S come to know itself as the O (which,
alone, would be "a mere movement of the imaination" [ie. mysticism,
Hegel didn't buy because he believed that the Absolute was not beyond
words or reason]) but the O must also come to know itself as S. And I'm
not even going to touch Eastern thought.
        Besides all that, Pirsig himself does say that he has lots of
predicesors. Fitting him into a larger context would, it would seem to
little old me, be a worthy gole for the LS! Not that I have any more
intention than you of lapsing into New Age-ism. YUCK! :( If somebody
starts talking about crystals and biofeedback and whale songs, I'm

        I'm picking on Bodvar, but it isn't just him who throws "SOM"
about at every turn. To quote Glove:
". rather than saying the human
consciousness is the creator of it all, i would say awareness is perhaps
creator of it all, and further, the universe is awareness and so in a
creates itself, but not in a SOM type of way."

        Maybe I missed something, but what on earth WOULD it mean for
universe to create itself "in a SOM type of way?" Exactly which
deffinition of SOM, #1 or #2, are you refering to and how do you get
there to the way a universe might create itself? Maybe I'm the only one,
but I sure don't see it.

        I'm fairly certain Pirsig did not mean for "SOM" to refer to
"everyone before me." I think he had a fairly spicific definition in
when we coined the term. Further, I think the more we can DIS-assosiate
the MoQ from RM Pirsig the better it is for the theory itself. I'm sure
he'd agree w/ me (or else he'd have joined the LS ad sit here and tell
all exactly what he ment!). That's why, while there is a definite value
explicating the text (ie. disscussing exactly what P ment by this, this
and this) the ultimate gole is to go beyond it, and maybe that'll mean
incorperating a little Ken Wilber or whoever; I don't know.

        Well, now that I stood-up for Andy, I have to stand-up for Bo a
little. I know next to nothing about Wilber, so I'm going to ask Andy.
you think he subscribes to either of our SOM definitions? His 4 domains
idea did seem to me to be along the lines of #1 -- or are those to be
understood as (intellectual) distinctions of covienence and not
ontalogically seperate types of *being*? Because I think we've all
that the S-O vocabulary generaly is real convienent and that the goal of
the MoQ is not to do away w/ it all-out. Most of the squad has agreed
Bodvar that S-O thinking is the *entire* intelectual level. Though even
if all that interior/exterior stuff works for you, I see it as a step
backward. I'm still convinced that, ontologically, niether perciesly
intior nor extier (or *Mu*) is the best way to go.

        Well, now that I think I've probly managed to offend everyone
                        TTFN (ta-ta for now)

homepage -
unsubscribe/queries -

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Thu May 13 1999 - 16:43:37 CEST