LS Re: Four levels of being

Donald T Palmgren (
Thu, 20 Aug 1998 15:16:13 +0100

On Wed, 19 Aug 1998, Magnus Berg wrote:

> >
> > I don't know what that's supposed to mean. The prefix 'meta' means
> > 'after' and it came about very arbitrarily.
> After? Well, I use meta as it is used in computer science. There, it has
> a very specific meaning so when the meta prefix is applied to the word
> language, forming metalanguage, it means grammar. The term metadata
> is often used in database lingo and means data about data, i.e. the tables
> of the database. Applied to physics, forming metaphysics, it would mean
> something like "the language and underlying assumptions used when talking
> about physics".

        I did not know that.

> > 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.'
> You can't be serious? Sounds like someone trying to undermine the need
> for a metaphysics. That's way too common I noticed.

        There are a lot of people trying to undermine the need for
metaphysics (I don't consider myself one), but nobodys trying to do it w/
that anicdote. No, that is (quirky as it may seem) a historic fact. I
don't think, however that it de-values metaphysics in any way, it just
means that the etamology of the word has nothing in particuler to do w/
it's subject. The subject, of course, may still be of great value.
        'Would a rose by any other name not smeal as sweet?' (Shakespeare)

> I actually think that my stretched levels are within the limits set by
> the examples in Lila. My version of the difference between our
> interpretations is that I didn't give up on the levels when I saw some
> problems with them, you did.

        I didn't say I gave up on them, I said I have some problems w/
them and if it were my book I might not include them -- or not in the same
        But i don't see how you can assert that all 4 levels are present
in everything and always have been and think that you're also in-line w/
what pirsig wrote. In LILA he uses the word 'evolution' all the time,
clearly implying that the levels developed in a succesive cronological
order, and he even gives at least two exact dates (399 BCE and November
11, 1918). you may say pirsig is being too human-centric or
life-chovanistic, but he seems clear that BIOpoVs are something that life
has (or 'has life') and Soc and Int poVs are something that people have
(or 'have people'). When he talks about IntpoVs he talks about profesors,
achademics and intellectuals -- not rocks. And when he talks about
SocpoVs he talks about NewYork, the Victorians and the Roman Empire -- not
a fish.

> > 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).
> Now you're confusing life with intellectual patterns.

        No, I said 'alive the same way you and I' = Social entity (I
didn't even mention IntpoVs!). My cat is alive, but not the same way we
are. She is alive as a cat. We are alive as homo-sapians... but we are
also alive as social entities. Before an AI could get to the Intellectual
level it'd have to go through this stage, the social. (The same is true
for cats.)

> > Further, does being alive (a BiopoV)...
> Now suddenly, life is a BioPoV?

        Not sure how sudden that is.

> And I think your "rhythms" that you want to replace static patterns with
> are actually this living mix of SQ and DQ. You say yourself that they
> aren't static and I agree, but why mix up SQ and DQ after they're nicely
> separated?

        No, I see rhythm as a synonym for pattern (and a more discriptive
one). I think SQ = a moral rhythm; DQ = what might suddenly interupt or
change that rhythm.>BANG!<

> > 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.
> So why do you bother about anything that doesn't feel good exactly right now?
> Why do you get up each morning?

        The answer to that is so obvious that it almost requirs no
responce, but...
        There is only the present moment/situation, but that doesn't mean
that this situation is going to keep repeating in a loop (like the Bill
Murry movie *Groundhog's Day*) or that it will never terminate. A rhythm
(whether it's the song *yankie doodle* or my eating breakfast has a
natural duration *built in* to the definition of it. After that expires,
some other situation becomes the present situation -- or, to word it
better, the situation transforms into a new situation.
        So I get up and enter the situation of *taking a shower*, but I'm
not going to be taking a shower for the rest of my life. That will run
it's course (provide something doesn't interupt/pre-empt it) and become
*eating breakfast*, which becomes *driving to work*... So, as Erving
Goffman says, the definition of the situation is the answer to 'What's
going on here, now?'
        What's going on here, now?
        I'm 'doing' my e-mail.
        These immedeat social situations are encroched in larger rythms:
calandrical units (the rhythm of my daily rutine). These days are inside
larger units (the 98-99 school year). Then on-up until you get the
biggest rhthmic unit: an Age.
        At every level there are a set or framework of moral imperatives
at work. There are certain things that are supposed to be going on there
and things that are not. If I am decapitating my political enimies and
drinking their blood then this is just not the right way to go about
*taking a shower* and this can't even count as *taking a shower*.

        Anyway, Magnus, putting all that aside (it may all be too much for
right now) let me just say that I'm making a shift from the Western to the
Eastern view of time. In Taoism space and time are not thought of in
terms of parameters and measurements. Time is not the Aristotilian series
of 'now-points'; and space is not the Newtonian empty container to be
filled up w/ being. This relates to Taoisms disintrest in cause-effect
and emphasis on change in aspect. But more than that, Joan Stambaugh
writes: 'Finally, the tao has been described, I think rather aptly, as
'the rhythm of the space-time structure.'' That's the same idea we see in
Hegel where he says that time is not the neutral container, or ground, of
being, but is being itself. In other words, what we call time *is* just
exactly these rhythms of morality. These arn't preduring moral rhythms
contained w/in time-space. These preduring moral ryhtms -- this
*essentialy* predictable flow or beat to the situation -- are time and
        I was reading Paul Shih-yi Hsiao the other day, and he was talking
about how in the East the ability to fore-tell the futuer (say by tarot or
in dreams) does not require any 'supernatural' explaination, because they
view time not as a line but more as aspect changes which fall outward from
a single source (something 'spherical' in loose graphic terms). Every
moment contains w/in it, he writes, every moment which came before it and
everymoment which follows after it. This is, again, a kin to Hegel's 'the
truth is the whole.'

        That doesn't answer your question at all does it?

                        TTFN (ta-ta for now)

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