LS Re: Four levels of being

Jonathan B. Marder (
Sun, 30 Aug 1998 17:19:23 +0100

Hi Maggie, Bodvar, Diana, Magnus, Donny, Troy and all the Squad,

I'm almost overwhelmed by the influx of posts over the weekend! I just
fired of a response to Magnus on the "metastable states" issue, but this
post is going to take some more thought. First, let me agree with BO
that there does seem to be progress. But I hope it is not just mystical
awakening ...
>> The other night I could feel how we ARE the universe, its mind, its
awareness, and
>> this tenuous thing that Diana has nurtured spans not only the world,
but the
>> universe...
>At first I had a few objections to stones and intellect, but the more
>I read the more my small misgivings faded into insignificance and
>finally I just sat there with moist eyes. There are days when the
>discussion seems hopeless and it looks as if we are moving away from
>whatever goal we have, but then there come "days like this" (as
>Van Morrison sings) with posts like Maggie's and Platt's.

Bo, I understand the moist eyes, but I hardly think that will sell the
MOQ to the world!

What I personally singled out as point of development was the dialogue
between Diana and Magnus:-

>>Sorry to spoil your fun Magnus but a computer disk is inorganic value
>>and nothing else. Value is the same as experience or awareness. The
>>must experience intellectual value to be classified as such. If not,
>>then it's inorganic and so are any patterns on the disk. It may have
>>been mediated by the intellectual level, but it's still inorganic.

>So why was it such a disaster when the library of Alexandria burned
>to the ground? It wasn't just a house and some paper that was lost,
>it was thousands of volumes filled with the ideas of living and dead
>thinkers. It was the countless intellectual patterns stored in
>those books that was lost, everything else could be replaced.
[ ... and in another post]

>How many layers are needed are contextual. If a diamond hangs around
>neck of a princess, it has quite a lot of social value I'd say. And the
>ink in Lila is also intellectual patterns.

With apologies to Diana, I must say that I am on Magnus's side here, but
it is DONNY who really explains the argument in his post on Heidegger:-
>(Elsewhere, Heidegger states that traditional metaphysics begins,
>falsly, w/ "things in nature" rather than "things invested w/ value."
>there is also his famous stament that philosophers err by looking at
>beings (things which exist) rather than Being (the condition of

Diana, I think that you are looking for "objective" value IN the rock
and computer disks. But Pirsig rejects this as a starting point. The
value (Quality) comes BEFORE the object subject split. Pirsig's starting
point isn't the THINGS themselves, but in the INTERACTIONS which define
them. The 4 levels of patterns are based not on things, but
interactions. The inorganic value of a computer disk is revealed in
inorganic analysis. Its biological value (or lack of it) is revealed
when you try to eat it. The social value of a diamond may well be
determined in an auction room, while the intellectual value of a novel
can be determined in a written or verbal discussion about it.
The particular Subject-Object split which emerges in each case is
context dependent, but it is important to remember that in Pirsig's
terms it is the contextual values which create the SO, and not the other
way round.

MAGGIE and MAGNUS had a discussion about whether or not computers could
be considered to be SocPoVs. Once again, this wasn't satisfactorily
resolved because the social SocPoVs aren't IN the computer (or humans
that matter) but in their interactions. Maggie grasped this, leading to
he "mystical awakening" (see beginning of this post).

>This had me awake half the night. All I could think about was the
>fundamental interconnectedness of everything. ...
>And then I got to thinking, "But there is something
>fundamentally different between a rock and a human, and maybe
>it has to do with the type of interactions in which
>it usually functions. The rock doesn't interact within all the levels.
>It's basically inorganic, right?

Nice start Maggie, but don't lose it again! Heidegger's hammer (see
Donny's post) may be made entirely of wood and metal, but when it
blackens Magnus's fingernail, then that has "bad" biological value
(Magnus, that's in revenge for the iron on my toe!:-). A hammer that is
used as a murder weapon has social significance, and finally, the hammer
used in an experiment to test theories of mechanical fracture is
participating in IntPoV.

Let's go back and look again at what TROY wrote a couple of weeks ago:-
>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
>in all "constituents of reality."

Written like that, I think that some members of the LS strongly object.
But if we change the middle sentence to read "all PoV are defined by
interactions and relationships between things" then the problems
dissolve (IMHO).
It's not the *things* but the *PoVs* that are the primary "constituents
of reality".


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