LS Moral precedence in the four levels

Donald T Palmgren (
Wed, 19 Aug 1998 18:22:32 +0100


On Mon, 17 Aug 1998, Theo Schramm wrote:

(Directed at Anthony)
> Furthermore claiming that
> intellectuals find it hard to perceive that police etc can have a
> positive effect in controlling the biological level is just plain
> ludicrous. One wonders if you just felt the need to share with us your
> correspondence with Pirsig no matter how irrelevant it was.

        personaly I liked the pirsig quotes. (It's the Clinton-Star
e-mail that ticks me off. Talk about irrelivent!)

> This sounds horribly close to 'just what you like subjectivism' to me
> and I would suggest that the MoQ MUST be able to provide Quality advice
> for mundane human morality, otherwise it becomes an intellectual mind
> game making unproveable and mystical assertions, (of which, in my
> opinion, there have been far too many of here recently), rather than a
> practical, elegant metaphysics. To my mind, unless these questions can
> be answered satisfactorily not
> many people beyond the squad are going to be very impressed by a moral
> metaphysics which pushes morality into the realm of 'ordinary>
> sensibilities.'

        It was 'practical metaphysics' that I zoomed in on. Practical
metaphysics!? Is there such a thing? Science we have because it gives us
better things for better living. psychology we have because it helps to
comfort the nerotic and treat the psychotic.
        What's the pay-off in philosophy? Especialy metaphysics!?

        A friend of mine who was a carear professor of philosophy, just
retiered, once told me, 'We have philosophy departments so that people w/
high IQs don't have to work for a living.'

        I'll give you that at various times in the past philosophy was
very serious buissiness (thus the American and French Revolutions), but
today!? It's just acahdemic isn't it? Clssroom stuff. philosophy no
longer has much of a place in the real world and the idea of 'practical
philosophy' is pretty goofy is it not? The role formerly heald by
philosophy is now filled by the social sciences.

        If metaphysics is the study of the question 'What really exists?'
then what, I ask, would be a practical aplication of that?

        (understand that I am in part playing the devil's advocate here.)

> If this is the case then what exactly does Pirsig mean when he calls the
> MoQ a 'moral system' and of what PRACTICAL use is it to mankind?

        I'd broden the question: Of what practical use is the study of
ethics? I don't think it has any. For a long time, we've had thinkers,
philosophers, laying down ethical theories -- Kantian formalism, Mill's
utilitarianism... -- all more or less scholerly and abstract. Do any of
these have a *practical* impact? Arn't our moral choices primarily
functions of our *social values*? I think so.

        Ethics, metaphysics... These are bookish, achademic, intelectual
activities. We derive our moral values not *from* these, but from our
social values, from our conscience and from all our unconscious
valuations. The purpose of philosophy -- if it's doing it's job -- is to
explain all this -- to explain what these values are, what morality is,
etc. -- in a clear, high-quality fashion. In ZMM Pirsig says that you
already know quality/good when you see it, but to say, as a definition,
what *is* Quality/Good... that's the bugbear that gets the whole ball
rolling. THAT is what his two books are trying to do.

        Am I wrong?

        But if you need to look to philosophy to tell you whether to stay
married or not then either you live in a very warped social environment,
you yourself are a bit too much on the ecentric side, you're a sociopath,
or else you've been given the wrong picture of philosophy. you don't
really need the philosophy departments to tell you whether you should stay
married or not, do you? I didn't think so.

                TTFN (ta-ta for now)

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