LS Four levels of being

Donald T Palmgren (
Tue, 18 Aug 1998 17:06:00 +0100

        Hey gang.

I've yet to see an explanation either from Pirsig or anyone else on how
the intellect came from SoPoV!
Sure, intellectual discplines have social components, but thought
        You hit exactly on what I'm trying to get at! Did you read my post
'4 levels of being' from the 14th?
That issue of Int building off Soc is just what I was getting at in the
second half. If you define IntpoVs as 'thought itself' then, as you point
out, it doesn't make sense. I don't think IntpoV *does* mean 'thought
itself' I think it it means something much closer to, as you say,
'intelectual activity' -- or what I characterize as 'the activity of
proving' (at least where the proof involves something other than social
status or force or so-on). Again: Calling IntpoVs 'just thinking' is a
hold-over of that old S-O, mind-matter dichotomy in which you try and
make IntpoVs = what was caled 'mind' or 'ego' or 'consciousness'...

On Mon, 17 Aug 1998, Magnus Berg wrote:

> Hi Donny and Squad
> You wrote:
> > I think there is a lot of bending and twisting of pirsig's ideas
> > going unrecognized around here. My favorite definitions of the 4 levels
> > is where he goes:
> > The laws of nature (physics)
> > The law of the jungle
> > The law (as in: judiciary law)
> > The rules of logic and scientific method
> >
> Don't be so single minded.

        Well, at least in this instance it's pirsig being narow-minded amd
not me.

> It's not that particular instance of a social
> pattern that is involved in the chlorophyl molecule, it's another instance
> of social patterns. It's a META-physics, remember?

        I don't know what that's supposed to mean. The prefix 'meta' means
'after' and it came about very arbitrarily. When Aristotle's works were
posthumusly assemboled, his notes on what he called 'theology' or 'First
philosophy' were placed on the shelf after his notes on physics, and so
they came to be called the 'metaphysics' -- 'after the physics.' (And
given that 1st philosophy comes logically prior to 2nd philosophy
[physics, chemestry, cosmology], 'metaphysics' is also somewhat misleading
-- which is why the term 'ontology' has come into achademic fashion
        As far as what metaphysics is... that's a discussion I'd love to
have (either here or on that new philosophy newsgroup) because it seems
prety fundamental. I mean, how do you know when you've got a good
metaphysics if you don't know what counts as metaphysics.
        The shortest, sweetist definition of metaphysics I know is that it
is not the attempt to *answer* the question 'What really exists?' but
rather is an analysis of the question itself -- What is ment by that? What
does it mean for something -- anything -- to exist -- or not exist?
> And don't think for one moment that I have no cause for stretching
> the levels as far as I've done. Yours and many other's definition of
> the levels--

        'My and other's *interpritation* of how pirsig uses the levels,'
you mean? If it were my system, I'm not sure I'd use the 4 levels at all.

> --are based on a life chauvinistic split between the first
> and the second level. It's dependent on the "fact" that everyone can
> recognize life when they see it. What kind of a metaphysical
> definition is that? To be frank, I'd put it close to ridiculous.

        #1 I don't think that is a metaphysical definition per-se.
(See my responce to Johnathan above.)
        #2 I don't think the lines between the levels is very
cut-and-dry. I do think that at each level a new pattern or rhythm comes
in and developes a life of its own, but I'm not claiming you can easily
identify exactly where that moment is. pirsig seems much more confident
about this. He says that IntpoVs 1st appeared *exactly* at the moment
Socrates drank the hemlock. ... That's pretty darn percise! Of course he
also says that IntpoVs don't fully seperat from and take moral dominance
over the SocpoVs until this last century. It's kind of like asking, 'at
what point does the seed become a tree?' I don't know; it just does.
        #3 Biology is the pursuit of a maximaly complete answer to
the open question, 'What is life?' As an *open* (meaning 'real')
question, there is no answer to that. The answer is being pursued,
clairified and altered all the time. Anyone who slaps down a short, sweet
answer to that question... well, he's not speaking as a biologist, but
rather as a person literat in the english language -- in other words, he's
not telling you what life is; he's telling you how the word is correctly
used. (And language being esentualy poetic, the use can be poetically
streched to various degrees.) Now, I'm sure there are biologist who could
give you a resonably percise definition of what life is, when, and how it
began (thogh they'll all disagree on the various details, I'm sure). I'm
not one of them. I don't cosider this a metaphysical falt, because I
recognise the distionction between 1st and 2nd philosophy, and because I
believe, as Wittgenstein said, 'there are no special experiences in
philosophy.' In other words, to be a philosopher (even an ontologist) you
don't have to have any special training, read the right books, know
everything about biology, know anything about quantum mechanics... That's
all 2nd phil., and clearly 1st phil. is logicaly prior. All you need in
order to do philosophy (again, as Wittgenstein said) is to be a literate
speaker of the language. (Imagination doesn't hurt.)

        The bottom line is: even if the biologist haven't worked out the
details (and may never will) the MoQ as it is set up by pirsig in LILA,
assumes that at some point in the past BIOpoVs came into being -- arose
out of InOrgpoVs.

> What are you gonna do the day computers get so smart that you have
> no choice but to call them intelligent, will they become biological
> that same day also? Will they be alive?

        Remind yourself, first, that I don't believe that INTpoVs =
awarness. An AI would not nessecarily 'have' INTpoVs (or they have it, I
should say).
        First it would have to have person-hood. It would have to be
'alive just like you and I' (ie. a *social* entity). As a social entity it
would have legal, moral, and logical rights: It can sue me in court. It
can correct my 'inappropreat' behavier. It could best me in a logical
debate by offering a proof. (This last being the gateway to INTpoVs.) In
other words, before AIs can become social entities, persons, 'minded'
beings in the common useage... they must fight the same battle as fought
by women, blacks, Native Americans... These staigmatized groups had to
destroy those stigmas in order to become 'real people.' (And as Erving
Goffman pointed out, there is no simple dichotomy of 'count'/'no-count,'
but rather a continuem of smaller-to-greater stigmas which include (in no
particuler order) haveing a criminal record, a wooden leg, no money,
being comited to an asylem... So the line between people and mere things
(what we talk *with* and what we talk *about*) is somewhat fuzzy... But
the limits are there.

        Further, does being alive (a BiopoV) necessarily mean being a
carbon-based life-form? Well, as Hegel said about his philosophy of
history, I'll say: I don't claim that this is the only was it could
possibly happen, only that this is, historically, the way it has happened.
        I don't think you necessarily have to be carbon based in order for
BIOpoVs to 'have you.' Right now, computers are just inorganic patterns.
perhaps the 1st AI will be a *lifeform* -- it will be *alive* -- in
MoQ-speak, it will embody BIOpoVs. But it will carry heavy stigmas and
must fight a battle before it can embody SOCpoVs -- before it can partake
in the Giant. And neither it, or it's creater, nor any select group of
individuals can deam it a Soc entity. Only the Ginat itself (society as a
whole) can do that. The Giant chooses who gets to play. In concrete
terms: Your AI must reach the point where I can not shut it down w/o the
same moral implications of killing a human being. HAL (of 2001) was an AI
but not a person. The droids of STARWARS were more people, but they could
still be bought and sold as slaves (at least it be slavery if they were
'real people'). (Of course since WWI, the Giant has IntpoVs to guide it on
what it should include; we can offer logical reasons why so-and-so group
should be included. This never happened [really] before this century, and
that's very exciting!)

> If you don't stretch the levels as I've done, they become life
> chauvinistic, short sighted and emotivistic. If you do stretch the
> levels, they become metaphysically useful.

        I don't agree w/ either statment.

> > And I think it's important to see how each level begins, as has
> > been said, in the servace of it's predecesor, but then it gains it's
> > freedom and, in my lingo, becomes a life of its own.
> So you do think that the inorganic level is alive too?

        Yes. Not 'alive' in the (I could say 'literal') sense that they
'are had by' BIOpoVs, but alive in the more metaphorical sense that I
frequently use to characterize all the types of paterns -- or to
characterize the idea of pattern (I prefer rhythm) itself. A patern/rythm
is something that 'lives in time' and goes on living (for its assigned
duration) in spight of whatever contingentcy may come along and kill it.
The song 'yanky-doodle' is a pattern. It takes a certain period of time to
sing yanky-doodle and anything significantly more or less than that,
whatever it might be, is not yankie-doodle. Similerly, it takes a certain
amount of time to, say, hold a biology class. A biology classs has a
certain script/pattern which it is suposed to follow and in fact this
script is the definition of what a biology class is/what counts as a
biology class. Now in the middle of class someone might pull an uzi and
start killing people. This would be an instance of contigentcy -- a prety
severe interuption in the rhythm.
        Now at the social level it's pretty easy to see that these
prescripted situations are *moral* patterns. This is the realm of two (I
think) great thinkers: Erving Goffman and GWF Hegel. Gofman works on the
micro-level of face-to-face interaction, and Hegel pursues the
macro-level: the idea of an age (or era or epoch) as a moral situation.

        Anyway, when I say the paterns are 'alive' I mean they are
concrete (temporal) rhythms -- not abstract (atemporal) laws or thoughts
or entities or what-have-you.

> >
> > Who doesn't buy that?
> Who do you think? :)

        I should have known :-7
> Well, today and on this planet that's a perfectly functional division.
> It demands fuzziness but nobody but me seems to mind. But apply it to
> any other place or any other time and it will probably become utterly
> meaningless. On the other hand, I guess that doesn't bother you either.

        Any other time and any other place is only an abstract projection.
The only time that exists is the present. Remember, this is META-physics.

                        TTFN (ta-ta for now)

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