LS Re: Moral precedence in the 4 levels

Bodvar Skutvik (
Sun, 9 Aug 1998 17:50:43 +0100

Dear LilaSquad.

forgive me but I must make a collective sweep or I'll become


> But when we talk about society taking on an identity
> of its own, we are talking about the evolution of CORPORATE values -
> flags, anthems etc. These values become far removed from any
> "biological" purpose they may once have had. Is Pirsig really saying
> that these corporate values should take moral precedence? I believe that
> is a path towards Fascism, and I don't believe this is Pirsig's intent.
> Thus, I come to the conclusion that full attention to the full ensemble
> of individual rights within the collective must dominate social and
> intellectual morality. I'm going to illustrate this with a couple of
> examples:-
Of course social value is far removed from Biology's purpose and of
course SoPoV are the road toward fascism and each despotism there
are.......if not checked by Intellectual values. That's the Q idea
'par exellance'! And of course individual rights - along with every
other "humanitarian" right which protects the individual from
communal arbitrariness (lynching, stoning, shooting at dawn) - ARE
the highest Intellectual values.

I believe the "society" term confuses greatly. Social value is very
THAN THE PARTS. Countries and states are manifestations of SoPoV, but
these may be greatly modified or (Maggie) "mediated" by Intellect.

THEO wrote:
> I agree and I too am deeply disturbed by Chapter 24 (possibly for
> different reasons) and it calls into question the whole idea of morality
> in the MoQ. The last sentence of your post here is very important and
> Pirsig's evaluation of right and wrong does not FEEL right to me. I have
> put my finger upon it from my point of view and it is summed up in the
> statement which seems to be the cornerstone of Pirsig's morality in the
> MoQ:

I have waited for the Chapter 24 to appear. That was got LILA such bad
reception in the beginning. Pirsig is seemingly out to add to the
difficulties of the poor to take revenge for the murder of Chris. But
nothing can be more wrong. I'll say no more.

To your marriage example: I once said to Jonathan that the MOQ is a
General Metaphysics far too accurate for mundane matters, it solves
the great conundrums but such problems are best dealt with by ordinary
sensibility. Anyway, dynamism of sexual licence has nothing to do with
Dynamic Quality, it's merely STATIC Biological value (animals mate
with the individual at hand). Marriage is a ritual of higher value!

Intellect, however, is always out to bash Society and attacks its
patterns relentlessly, marriage is no exception. This is the essence
of Chapter 24: If Biology isn't controlled by Society we get a greater
hell than ever imagined, and Intellect's (as the top notch without
limitations above) fallacy is to join forces with Biology to destroy
the common enemy: Society.

MAGGIE wrote
> The social level has mediated biology--changed it, given it skyhooks to
> recreate new biological patterns, which go off on a life of their own
> from each individual starting point. Since the social level mediated
> biology, there are very few instances of finding unchanged, unmediated biology.
> Ask an environmentalist. It's real obvious that human social patterns have
> affected most biology (Cultivation and loss of "wild" species, the ozone layer,
> acid rain, temperature effects, pollution throughout the ocean).

I do not for one second disagree with your "mediation" idea. Life has
transformed Matter, Society has influenced Life and Intellect's
influence - as a mediator of Society - can be said to go all the way
down to the Inorganic level. That's true and your great contribution
to our understanding of the MOQ. But the various value dimensions are
still "discrete" even if they are mediated. The "giving of skyhooks"??
Do you mean the breeding of domestic animals that otherwise would not
appear in the wild? If so I agree even more, perhaps - as Magnus
suggests - will artificial life be created, but the Biological level
is just as valid.

What I said about Wilber goes for Schumacher too. His are
great ideas and fits the MOQ splendidly, but it is the metaphysical
shift that I miss. Anyway, here's my contribution to your list of
as corresponding to ("representating") the Q-levels.

HORSE (who is away on "hols", but may read it upon his return) wrote:

> I couldn't agree more Bo. A great deal of the discussion recently
> has been getting far too 'cosmic', which is why I've held back for a
> while.
> There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding this topic and as
> far as I can see most of it is due to trying to fit a litre of beer into
> a pint pot. The litre of beer being Quality and the pint pot the 4 levels.
> This is what happens when intellectual catagorisation attempts to
> limit reality with pigeon-holes and strict demacation lines.
> As I see it, there is a continuum of value. Just as science sees
> space-time as a continuum which has a continuous NOT discrete
> structure. The METAPHYSICS of Quality organises this continuum
> into a structure for the purpose of intellectual order. The MoQ is
> NOT reality, it is the map with which we find our way around,
> adding to it as we go. At the moment it is a bare outline with very
> little detail.

I buy the continuum idea, but will still claim (as with Maggie) that
the value levels are discrete. When one goes deep enough into
Matter it's interface with chaos becomes increasingly fuzzy, as does
Life's with Matter, Society's with Life and Intellct's with Society,
but there is a "spark gap" - always.

DONNY wrote:
> 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/
> saying "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,
> self

Did Hegel really 'take on the dragon' (of SOM) 150 years before
Pirsig? From what I have read about him I am not fully convinced (but
willing to be persuaded). My SOM is definitely your no 1 definition,
while my S-O is no 2, and this is the crux of my SOTAQI idea:
Subject-Object thinking is the highest good but Subject-Object
METAPHYSICS (that the S-O distinction is the way things are) is
deeply wrong. My accusation of New Age as SOMish is based on their
"mind-matter" division (without the SOTAQI qualification). All right,
they say that matter is an illusion, but it's stubborn irreducableness
haunts their thinking.

NB! Your "metaphysics - world view" distinction sounds a little
academical, I use them interchangeable. Is there something more
fundamental than a metaphysics?

PLATT wrote:
> Finally, I was taken by Donny's statement that "An electron does
> such-and-such because the universe values that reaction to so-and-so."
> Hmm, sounds like the universe is conscious (sentient) at the inorganic level.
> Can you value something without being aware? Before we leave the topic
> of the nature of Pirsig's levels, I'd like to see us discuss the question
> of whether some form of consciousness exists at ALL levels. I side with
> those who think it does. And Pirsig's "B values precondition A" suggests he
> sees consciousness at all levels, too.

You touch the point which sets the MOQ apart from everything
else. These are subtle matters, but if you accept the SOTAQI idea
"consciousness" means the limited 'conscious of self as different from
other' ("I'm someone"), but NOT SOM's "awareness of objective
reality". In this sense there is no awareness at other levels except
Intellect. But all levels interacts with value to keep their position
fixed, and in that sense an atom perceives quality. There is a shift
in thinking which has to be made here.

KEN (Clark, not Wilber) wrote:
> Bo, (rhymes with toe and is thus a good word. Boo, as in Boo Hoo might
> have connotations of the Bogey Man.) before you jump all over me let me
> say that I concur with Pirsig's concept of the MOQ. I agree that all is
> composed of Static Patterns of Value which determine our individual
> realities and that the world is an expression of Value through the
> operation of Quality. I agree that the universe is based on preferences
> rather than causation and that substance is a subspecies of value. Where
> I disagree is when you say that Static Patterns of Value are fixed and
> unchanging. In my view SPoVs are continually being provided an
> opportunity to change by the continual flux of Static Quality as influenced by the
> ever changing Dynamic Quality.

> We have resulted from a continuous process of evolution in which the
> entire sweep of reality is a seamless whole. The four levels of SPoV are
> an artifact that Pirsig constructed to make explanation easier. All levels
> from the inorganic through the intellectual level interact seamlessly
> under

What I have written above answers your objection in various
ways. All levels interacts and are upheld by Dynamic Quality, but
"changed"? No new natural laws appears that I know of. Life may be
modified - possibly created - but carbon or silicon - BiPoV is
fixed. Social consellation come and go, but the value of co-operation
is unshaken. At the dynamic cutting edge of Intellect, patterns are
created and destroyed constantly, but ideas' power remains.


Of course I did notice the dimension analogy and support it 100% as
you presented it to Jonathan, but the Chinese Box idea? Can it be said
that each spatial dimension contains a full set of dimensions that
again...and so on?

reply to Jonathan was good. I had formulated a response to his
moon-landing example, but put it aside, it's the "society" confusion
again. The point about commercial television was almost beyond my
innocent Norwegian imagination, but I guess Donald answered that one
well too.

Thanks for your support!


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