The Metaphysics Of Quality

A philosophy developed by RobertPirsig in LilaAnInquiryIntoMorals

Pirsig's exploration of quality in ZenAndTheArtOfMotorcycleMaintenance continues in Lila, where he refines it into a philosophy he calls the Metaphysics of Quality, MoQ for short.

the branch of philosophy that deals with first principles and seeks to explain the nature of being or reality (ontology) and the origin and structure of the universe (cosmology); it is closely associated with the study of the nature of knowledge (epistemology).


The following are a selection of quotes from 'Lila, an Inquiry into Morals' that cover the basics of Pirsig's philosophic claims:

(Page numbers from November 1991 Bantam Book hardback edition are preceded with 'h', from October 1992 Bantam Book paperback -export- edition are preceded with 'p', chapter numbers are the same in both editions)

How can we know? (epistemology)

What can we know? (ontology)

What should we do? (ethics) How do we know what we should we do? (meta-ethics) Why is there something rather than nothing? or Where did we come from? (cosmology)
An alternative definition of meta-physics is a set of answers to the questions: Pirsig's answers to the first two questions can be summarized as:

He doesn't answer the third question: (which can be paraphrased as) 'how do you tell the saviors from the degenerates?' It is only with a century or so of hindsight that [a specific change] appears evolutionary. suggests that (Pirsig thinks that) you can't know what you should do.

My answer to the third question is:

Pirsig should have written a third novel subtitled 'an inquiry into meaning' after his novels 'Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance', subtitled 'an inquiry into values', and 'Lila', subtitled 'an inquiry into morals'. He probably won't do it any more, so we have to do that ourselves...

-- WimNusselder
Offsite Links ( connects some 200 people world-wide who are interested in Pirsig -- WimNusselder

( is a copy of this page on a wiki that may be more suited to this subject -- WimNusselder
Also see EpistemicsOfQuantity, PhilosophyOfPragmatism, RealValue, WhatIsQuality
CategoryPhilosophy CategoryWorldView CategoryQuality

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