Donald T Palmgren (email@example.com)
Sat, 29 Aug 1998 04:57:07 +0100
I've been arguing here that Pirsig has set-up a little schema in
which the universe evolves from static to Dynamic. It's created 4
evolutionary levels in this process and they move from the oldest (start:
big bang) to newest (about 2500 years old or-so). They move from the least
freedom of choice (atoms and even quanta rarely do anything totaly wiggy
or completly unpredictable) to maximum freedom of choice (get 10
scientists or philosophers into a room and get 5-10 different sets of
intellectual patterns), and they move from the most preduring (InOrg don't
really change much, Bio evolve slowly) to most ephemoral (societies rise
and fall, and ideologies come and go over breakfast).
This schema is very practical. It has one big problem. It
endorses the idea of the objective, "thing-itself" reality "out there"
Like: It explains (nicely so!) the existance of a rock as a set of
InorgPoVs... but this picture leaves something out: US!! Us -- the
subject, imaginativly rojecting this object of the world. S and O arise
together out of the Quality Event. They are inseperable. Heidegger called
this *Erignis*, which is usually translated as "belonging-together."
(I'm going to make more than my normal philosological refrences,
so i'm appologizing in advance.)
This rock doesn't exist "out there" in the world. It exists -- it
*really* exists as an abstraction, a token passed around in our
conversation. The InOrgPoVs are *only* abstractions -- schema, part of
the correct picture of the world (CPOW).
And that's the key. It's all an abstract projection. As Pheadrus
says in ZMM: It's all alegory. The truth is always alegorical.
The 4-level cosmology gives us this schema: At time-zero, the
InorgPoVs came into being. then, a coupple of hundred million years ago,
BiopoVs formed. Between 40,000-8,000 BCE the SocPoVs grew out of the
BioPovs, and, just "reacently," the IntPoVs grew out of the SocPoVs
between (say) 399BCE and November 11, 1918.
But, of course, all this is only abstract projection ("ghosts" in
ZMM's lingo). The past exists only as memory and (in this case)
recapitulation. The only time that exists -- really -- is the preasent
situation. From our present situation, we project this abstract schema:
the "time of record" (as in "Let the record show that...") -- a timeline
that streaches from t=0 to now and on into the future where we have AIs
and take apes out to dinner and a movie. But what *really* exists is what
we're doing right here, right now.
And this is the answer to "Whose making the valuations at the
Inorg level? Where is the Inorg consciousness?" It's *not* there. This is
a flub that comes up when we mistake this abstract cosmology for concrete
reality. The 4 levels are a map. They belong to Second Philosophy,
really, along w/ the sciences, as the latest most correct picture of the
world, but they are not an ontology and not ment by Pirsig to be so.
Along w/ scientific description of reality, the 4 levels are just an
allegory -- a metaphore. We can speak of a time before the earth was
formed, but in what way does this time exist? Well, clearly it exists
only as an imaginative projection we are making. I say "clearly," but of
course that's not at all clear because it's so obvious as to go unoticed.
It's hidden in plane sight!
"Man's reach should exceed his grasp,
or else what's a meta-phore?" (Marshal McLuhan)
What really exists, exists in time. The universe before the earth
formed, the dinosuars, Atlantis and the American Revolution all exist in
time... but how? HOW do they exist? (That's metaphysics.) They exist by
being a token passed about in our conversation -- and done so in a
morally (socially) appropreate manner, I should say! That's really how
We now might take a tip from Kant who suggested that metaphysical
staments should always carry an implied "as if." We should:
Play as if reality (experience) = value.
Play as if this value is divided into Dynamic and static value.
Play as if sq is divided into 4 levels or phases of "evolutionary"
So sq is alegorical and non-ontological. Now, if you're a
philosolologist, then a usefull comparison to Kant begins to form. On the
one hand we have the world acording to us -- our usefull schema, our
worldview w/ it's coordinates of time and space used to plot and record
everything/history... But this is just how the world appears for us. Over
against this stands the "nominal" world, the world as it really is, the
world before we slice, dice and plot -- This appears analogus to Pirsig's
DQ. Kant called it the "Moral self" (also, always w/ capital letters),
and it's analogus to Tao, Brahman, Hegel's Spirit, Hericlitus' Logos,
etc., etc. Both Kant and Pirsig say that this last realm is undefineable
-- unassailable to the intellect. It is one, trancendent and
undifferentiated. To me, Pirsig's philosophy is like what Kant would have
said if he had read the *tao-te-ching* and wrote as well as Mark Twain.
One point that's not yet clear is whether "DQ" should really be
set along w/ those other ontological unities. Last month I (and I think
Diana, also) started thinking, 'Well, maybe the only reason to talk about
"DQ" is to conterpose something to sq and thus make sense out of the whole
schema/worldview/cosmology/framework.' Maybe we should have DQ and sq
together as phonominal aspects and contrapose them to just plane old
"Quality" -- neither dynamic or static per-se. "Quality," as far as
Pirsig defines it in ZMM, means the pre-intellectual, unified experience
-- the at-one-ment -- before the Analytic knife comes into play.
I'm still thinking that Pirsig's real metaphysical insights came
in ZMM, and LILA is really his attempt at a Rossetta Stone -- a way of
integrating the Eastern/mystical/Romantic w/ the
Western/metaphysical/classical(A/not-A). Bodvar, I think LILA *is*
Pirsig's attempt at a set of "Lorentz equations" which would convert the
present Western worldview into a more "Quality conscious" lingo.
ZMM, more than LILA, has all the jucy philosophical insights. But
ZMM has it's own roots in Eastern thinking. It's more akin to Eastern
thought, and LILA (I say) is more like the German philosophical tradition
which (consciously or not) has been primarily about the atempt to bridge
Western emperical reality w/ (Eastern) spiritual/mystical reality.
To quote from DiSanto and Steele's *Guidbok to ZMM* (every LS
member should have this book; so far as I know it's the only published
book souly about Pirsig's philosophy):
"If you can define the ultimate, you are treaing it as a
metaphysical entity; if you cannot define it, you are treating it as a
mystical entity... When you know something metaphysicaly, you maintain a
certain distance from it; you can talk about it. [That's S-O.) When you
know something mystically, the distance vanishes... you've entered it and
The difference is whether you're over-aginst the world or (in
Heidegger-speak) being-in-the-world (he wrote it w/ hyphens like that to
note that there was no seperation between you and world -- he said you are
"in" the world, NOT the way you are "in a room," but the way you are "in
love," or "in trouble").
This post continues in "On Heidegger."
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