LS Re: The Four Levels 'n' Stuff

Horse (
Fri, 28 Aug 1998 16:50:51 +0100

Hi Everyone
I was surprised when I got back from sunny Cornwall - over a hundred posts in
two week (two weeks without a cyberfix - arghh!!!) - the Lila Squad is growing.
One year old as well. Happy birthday LS (OK I'm a bit late - so sue me). Back
to being unmoderated as well? Diana, you've done a superb job for the last few
months, forcing everyone to be a bit more focussed - it's been fun. Thank you.

On with the show.

There seems to have been at least some attempt to tackle the ethical side of
the MoQ (Theo, Jonathan, Bo et. al.), so I'd like to lob in my two penn'orth.
I was going to do it in a post but it's starting to get a bit long, so I'm doing an
essay for the forum instead. That makes 2 - both are started. In the meantime...

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.
So as I see it, the 4 levels, as discrete catagories, is a mistaken
view. This is not to say that there are not 4 levels, but that they are
present to varying degrees in the constituents of reality.

Horse wrote that perceiving the four levels as discrete is
mistaken. I would say that from a Dynamic viewpoint he is
correct though from some static viewpoints (such as the
concepts given in the MOQ) he is incorrect.

Just as you can't say precisely when a baby becomes discrete
from its mother you can't say precisely when the social level became
discrete from the biological level. However to turn round and say that
it therefore *isn't* discrete is wrong as well. The transition may be
fuzzy but the outcome is clear. There is some socialisation in the
animal kingdom, but that is just the awakening of the giant. The real
social value lies in human culture where social patterns exist for no
reason other than to propagate themselves.

the four levels are distinct categories, i'd say, although they ARE all
present in varying degrees in all of our constructed reality. all
things "have" them, and they are parts of "Quality", so they are present
in all "constituents of reality."

Horse, there is validity in what you are saying to be sure, but Pirsig
states very clearly that there are only four levels, and that everything
we are aware of will fit into these levels without exception. and i feel
that if Pirsig were not absolutely sure on this point, he never would
have proposed the MoQ in the first place.

>From the point of view of Pirsigs description of the MoQ, there are precisely 4
levels within the SQ component of QUALITY. The MoQ is an intellectual tool
that enables discourse relating to reality and it's construction, with Quality as
the basis of reality. Zen and Lila are the primary texts of the MoQ and as such
are the basis of the MoQ. All of the above are descriptive mechanisms - no
more, no less. They are, to my mind, the best means so far of making sense of
experience. Intellectual sense that is. As with SOM, if you construct a
metaphysical description of reality that precludes the existence of X as a
fundamental part of reality then it is extremely difficult to explain that reality in
terms of X. So with the MoQ, AS A METAPHYSICS, restricting reality to 4
boxes instead of 2 is, in the long run, counter-productive. I agree that in many
cases it is easy to distinguish PoV's which fit easily into a single catagory. The
mother/child example is a good case. But this doesn't mean that the
catagories are DISCRETE. It means that certain areas of the 4 levels are
discernible. Each level emerges from the previous level and at some stage,
examples of that level are INTELLECTUALLY disctinct from the parent level.
But each level also continues to be contained by all of the previous parent
levels in terms of value. So in this sense (the territory NOT the map) they are
continuous. To try and seperate one from the other is an intellectual exercise.
To then declare that reality is then obliged to conform to the dictates of
intellectual desire is pointless - as Cnut demonstrated a thousand years ago.
I'm quite happy to accept that, in most cases, the degree to which different
forms of value create an area of reality, as we experience and/or discern it, can
be distinguished. What I do not accept is that the intellectual seperation of
these components gives rise to discrete patterns of value in discrete boxes as
this is the very idea that gave rise to the monster that created the need for the
So far, much of the discussion in the LS has been concerned with those
patterns that have (relatively) easily distinguishable components. But what
about the patterns that make up an ecosystem, a biosphere, an economic
system, an artificial intelligence or artificial life? All of these are complex
systems, and more, they are complex ADAPTIVE systems. Not only do they
consist of DQ AND SQ, but the SQ value levels that contribute to their
continuance are variable. The boundaries of the above are not clear and the
influence that have over each other, in terms of interaction is highly dynamic.
How do we describe the Internet in terms of patterns of value?


"Making history, it turned out, was quite easy.
It was what got written down.
It was as simple as that!"
Sir Sam Vimes.

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