Metaphysics of Quality

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by A4Ever, Jul 7, 2004.

  1. A4Ever Knows where his towel is Registered Senior Member

    I have read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and I am about to finish "Lila" by Robert M. Pirsig.

    In these books, Pirsig talks about his new kind of metaphysics, based on Value or Quality.

    He wants to break free from the object-subject dualism, which is the dominant theory of our time. Pirsig notices how many aspects of reality are lost in this dualism. Therefore he proposes to start from Quality as the source of everything. You shouldn't read too much philosophical crazy talk in this statement, cause Pirsig at one point compairs this as the difference between looking at a standard worldmap and one which has the North pole in the center.

    Quality manifests in four different levels: the anorganic, the organic, the social and the intellectual. This is also the moral order.

    Inside each level, there is static and Dynamic Quality. Static quality is that which is considered good and hasn't changed for a while. Example: it is good to eat, cause otherwise you die (organic level - good)

    Dynamic Quality is the undefinable Quality which allows evolution of values. An example is inspiration. Everything that pulls you out of the normal patterns, is Dynamic. This doesn't mean you can't crash and burn.

    The Metafysics of Quality sheds new light on ancient problems like body-mind, free will-determinism, good-evil and what not.

    Since the first book is an international best seller, I am curious as to how this theory has influenced philosophy and what the individual members think about it.
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  3. Randall Patrick Registered Member


    This all sounds very, very abstract to me. Why don't you situate his points by encompassing them in an actual human political or moral interaction. Lots of times these "theories" sound great---as long as they are only words talking about or describing the truthfulness of other words. But once you try to fit them into the actual contingencies and ambiguities of flesh and blood human discourse down on the ground they quickly fall apart at the seams. It's easy enough to make words do what you want them to do...a lot harder convincing people to do the same.

    Randall Patrick
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  5. ProCop Valued Senior Member

    Well I find this concept of quality slightly related to Plato end the ideal world of ideal forms. At moments you see some mirroring of these perfect shapes in the real world eg. in music or art or in a simple (insignificant) street scene eg. movement of somebody on a bike can be suprisingly beautiful. Where this comes from? There is some flaw in our conceptualisation of the world, I agree with that, but the concept of quality as Pirsig present it does not lead to my satisfaction. His work is none the less valuable in opening this subject. I hope some discussion of soort will devolop here about this book, but possibly the concept of quality is somewhat difficult opening...
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