A philosophy developed by RobertPirsig
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?
What can we know?
- Metaphysics is not reality. Metaphysics names reality. pp h63
- The Metaphysics of Quality subscribes to what is called empiricism. It claims that all legitimate human knowledge arises from the senses or by thinking about what the senses provide. pp h113
What should we do?
- Quality is the primary empirical reality of the world pp h67
- There is a principle in physics that if a thing can't be distinguished from anything else it doesn't exist. To this the Metaphysics of Quality adds a second principle: if a thing has no value it isn't distinguished from anything else. Then putting the two together, a thing that has no value does not exist. pp h114
- Quality was value. They were the same thing pp h58
- Quality is a direct experience independent of and prior to intellectual abstractions. pp h64
- The Metaphysics of Quality is a continuation of the mainstream of twentieth-century American philosophy. It is a form of pragmatism, of instrumentalism, which says the test of the true is the good. It adds that this good is not a social code or some intellectualized Hegelian Absolute. It is direct everyday experience. pp h366
How do we know what we should we do?
- When you define morality scientifically as that which enhances evolution it sounds as though you have really solved the problem of what morality is. ... ch 17 pp p256
Why is there something rather than nothing?
- ... But then when you try to say specifically what is and what isn't evolution and where evolution is going, you find you are right back in the soup again. The problem is that you can't really say whether a specific change is evolutionary at the time it occurs. It is only with a century or so of hindsight that it appears evolutionary. ... This is really the central problem in the static-Dynamic conflict of evolution: how do you tell the saviors from the degenerates? ch 17 pp p256
or Where did we come from?
An alternative definition of meta-physics is a set of answers to the questions:
- How can we know?(epistemology),
- What can we know? (ontology) and
- How can we know what we should do? (meta-ethics).
Pirsig's answers to the first two questions can be summarized as:
- We know by experiencing and we experience value.
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:
- We can know what we should do by experiencing which of our options has most Meaning for us (Meaning as in 'the Meaning of life'). Meaning refers to the context of a story, the story of our life, that can be seen as a part of the stories of the groups we choose ourselves to be members of.
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...
) 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
CategoryPhilosophy CategoryWorldView CategoryQuality