Good to hear from you too. Yes, rambling is my middle name since "I
was born a ramblin' man". I think I understand your confusion below,
and will do my best to explain in terms that you may find useful.
This is not a battle between ontology’s. This is a struggle for
understanding of each of our awareness’s of what is. I have no
interest in whether you find it useful or not. My attempt herein is to
try to have you understand what I mean.
On 4/22/12, Ham Priday <hampday1@veri...> wrote:
> Hello Mark --
> I haven't heard from you in quite a while!
>> Hi Ham,
>> Thank you for your always respectful and valuable contributions,
>> laced with some arrogance. Arrogance is of course needed in
>> promoting a value, but we should always balance such arrogance
>> with the sardonic, at least as far as self-evaluation.
> Where does that maxim come from? I've always admired those who express
> their thoughts forthrightly, leaving "the sardonic" comments to their more
> cynical respondents. (At least that's been my history here.)
Heh, heh, that maxim comes from my keyboard to your eyes. The
sardonic is necessary for maintaining a healthy self-evaluation. I
was not speaking of the sardonic in expressing thoughts to others, for
that is simply negative criticism.
>> You are quite correct about the doctrinal component of MoQ.
>> This is indeed a method for teaching of knowledge that involves
>> the esoteric. In this day and age we tend to dismiss such a method
>> and base our presentations on the exoteric or objective. In modern
>> times the metaphysical is firmly based in the physical, as science
>> provides great examples. Yet how does one describe that which
>> lies outside of the measureable without measuring it?
> I don't much like the label "esoteric" for intuitive concepts, especially
> theories expounded to explain Reality. If ultimate reality is esoteric, how
> much more ephemoral must existential reality be? The term "spiritual" is
> often used in that sense, which also disturbs me. For isn't spirituality a
> major factor in the appreciation of Value? Indeed, we both know there are
> some here who would categorize the conscious self as an illusionary
> abstraction, meaning "unreal" of course.
OK, you don't like the word esoteric. However, it is the esoteric
which is missing from much Western thought, and it is such esoterism
that needs to be re-imbued. The West has over-objectified existence
to a point of meaninglessness.
Spirituality can be expressed objectively (SQ) or subjectively (DQ).
This whole bit about Illusions is rather overworked, as far as I am
concerned, to the point of having no meaning whatsoever.
> The rest of your post seems to be mostly a rambling dissertation on DQ/SQ
> interaction which I find rather difficult to follow. However, I will
> comment on a few of your more problematic statements.
>> As you well know, MoQ does dwell partly in the esoteric
>> since that is where our intuition of DQ comes from.
> Frankly, I've found nothing particularly esoteric about Pirsig's philosophy.
> equates Value (i.e., differentiated Quality) to direct experience, offering
> the pain felt when sitting on a hot stove as his prime example. Where does
> he describe the esthetics of art, music, or fine literature? Why does he
> avoid explaining the epistemology of love, desire, awe, and inspiration by
> which our value-sensibility is experienced? Is it that emotional feelings
> are too closely associated with the lowly "biological level" or that they
> are too esoteric or insufficiently "exoteric" for philosophical analysis?
You seem to have difficulty generalizing Pirsig's example. You must
ask: from where does our intellectual knowledge come? Aesthetics are
the presentation of DQ, for how does one fundamentally describe why
one likes a certain piece of music? From the DQ follows the
objectification of such aesthetics in a manner which can be shared and
remembered (more on this in a post I am building currently).
I tend to stay away from the term Emotion just like you stay away from
esoteric. The psychologists have got a hold of "emotion" and
converted it into a tool for their own misguided control of knowledge.
In terms of the epistemology of our relationships with What Is, I am
not sure quite what you mean. Let us take the epistemology of Love.
We can say that such a thing embodies a relationship between. It is
not something that is measurable, so we have to resort to the
immeasurable aspects of metaphysics, that is the conceptual which does
not have ties with the physical. Within your metaphysics you suggest
a conceptual mechanism for such a relationship, yet offer no
epistemology by which such relationships differ (love v hate for
Within MoQ, one can say that value is subject to direction. This
direction is towards the Good (whatever you want that to be). The
epistemology is more clear here in that some emotions are constructive
and others are destructive. If you want a source for these
relationships, we call that Quality. That is, we interpret Quality
within a human embodiment. One can speak of "winds of Quality" if you
like. These are “sourceless winds”. (Yes, "love is in the air").
Spend some time contemplating the self, and feel all the "emotions"
that are going on at the same time within, and you will get a sense of
these winds. It was through such knowledge that Buddha became a great
teacher of humility.
I would be careful with the term "experiencing value sensibility" as
you use it, for one cannot separate the “experience” from the
experience. Value sensibility is experience; it is not something that
is experienced. I deal with this a bit later below.
>> Within MoQ there is the notion that everything is SQ that can
>> possibly be thought of, therefore there can be no intellectual
>> understanding of DQ (for such a thing converts DQ to SQ)....
>> In fact there are those in this forum that find "solace" in this
>> paradox of SQ. For it points to the ever-unattainable
>> understanding of DQ through the persistence of SQ. However,
>> for one to succumb to such a paradox simply shows the lack of
>> education of such a thing.
> I don't understand your point here, Mark. Why should an insoluble paradox
> give one solace? Isn't it philosophy's goal to come up with a solution? If
> we can't approach DQ through experience, intellection, or intuitive logic,
> what justification is there for positing it as a fundamental tenet, let
> alone "educate" ourselves on its properties?
It gives solace because it removes one from responsibility in the
sense "there is nothing I can do about it". I am against such a
paradox! My tone above was one of contempt, and I have expressed this
many times to the likes of David H.
The purpose of philosophy is to provide meaning, perhaps that is what
you mean by solution. However, there is nothing to solve, only that
Of course we can approach DQ through those things you mention. The
point made in MoQ, is that such approaches are simply that. You can
approach the sun all you want during the day along the desert sand, by
walking towards it. It is this walking we are doing in MoQ. We are
not uncovering or discovering anything, we are simply making tracks in
the sand that others can follow. We educate ourselves on these
tracks, and make choices along the way as to which way to go. Some
tracks have higher quality than others.
Perhaps you do not find the logic compelling in Lila. Perhaps the
correct words or examples were not used for your understanding. That
is why we are here in this forum to discuss these things. All I can
provide are my own words and logic.
The source of All, Quality, is logically divided into two components.
These are DQ and SQ. I have a post coming up which describes my
intuitive understanding of this better. SQ is the manner in which
"things appear to be", DQ is the manner in "what IS". That is the
fundamental tenant. This is not an uncommon split as far as
metaphysics goes, and you will find this in all great teachings. Once
this division is made, the logic flows from it.
>> For once awareness is converted to words, it is no longer that
>> awareness. The "Quality that can be written, is not Quality".
>> One must therefore always keep in mind what one is doing
>> with MoQ, so as to not provide it more reach than it deserves.
>> Any written or spoken metaphysic is conveyed to the willing
>> listener by giving clues as to what underlies such metaphysics.
>> Once these clues are assimilated and used, the clues themselves
>> disappear, and the student is then able to move forward without
>> remembering them. ...
>> Therefore, there is a subtle difference between doctrinal and
>> dogmatic. If the dogmatic were the words one must utter in a
>> prayer, then the doctrinal is the church in which the praying
>> is done. There are many prayers in a church.
> I disagree with this whole premise which stems from Pirsig's statement that
> once something is defined it is destroyed or rendered useless. Words don't
> destroy awareness. The fact that ultimate truth cannot be defined doesn't
> make attempts to do so less important or useful. Theoretical Science and
> Philosophy are kept alive by the desire to know the unknowable, and
> "definitions" don't have to be verbal. I've often said that truth is in the
> concept, rather than in facts and numbers. A plausible concept, properly
> developed, is often more explanatory than a doctrinal tenet or rhetorical
> maxim. To really know something is to understand it conceptually, not as a
> set of rote definitions.
Well maybe you find Pirsig's words a bit harsh here. All the more
reason why you should understand their meaning. The Egyptians of old
fully understood the power of the word. For once a name is given to
something we appear to have control over it. We can dismiss a tree as
simply a "tree". Do you not find something lost there? Do you not
see how something fundamental has been destroyed?
Of course words provide awareness, they are used to share awarenesses
so that we may know experiences that we have never experienced. Most
of our intellectual lives is constructed on such sharing. However,
one does not simply stop at the words. One looks beyond the words to
what they symbolize. There is a tendency in the West to forget this
distinction. For example, we say that light behaves like a wave. So
people envision light looking like a wave on an ocean. But light is
not a wave, that is just a mathematical description for it. Or we say
that light is like a particle. So people envision these particles
shooting across the universe. But, light is NOT a particle, that is
just a description. Like I have said many times, a painting is not
the landscape! That is what Pirsig is saying. Don't get too caught
up in the words, they are just symbolic and even trivial. You could
call Essense anything you wanted, and it would still be the same
We cannot "know the unknowable" since knowledge is a creation. The
unknowable will always be the unknowable. We can only make knowledge
out of the unknown. This is another manner in which to present the
distinction between DQ and SQ. SQ is the "known", and DQ is the
"unknown". This is simple word substitution (which has its own
problems), but hopefully it gives you some understanding.
>> I would have to say that DQ is not synonymous with Value.
>> However, I am hard pressed to explain this. Having said this,
>> I cannot find a useful definition for Value which is not somehow
>> self-referential and therefore redundant. ...
> All value is self-referential in that it relates to the self who experiences
> it. What makes that "redundant"? And since Pirsig himself equated Quality
> with Value, I don't see why the "ultimate Quality" DQ should not be
> synonomous with Value as well.
OK, here's how: How do you distinguish between the self who is
experiencing it, and the value? What is this self that has no
experience? Experience and self cannot be separated. How does one
compare Value to something else?
We can certainly create a scientific understanding of such experience
as the interface between ourselves and other, but such an interface is
murky and somewhat misguided. I have explained this to you in my
off-line posts to you. We must therefore deal with the symbolism of
Experience as opposed to one who experiences.
In MoQ parlance, a value is a reference which is made from DQ. It is
a place holder, which makes it SQ. There are values of different
qualities. The value of something comes from its qualities.
Therefore, this points to Quality as being the underlying principle
for value. The Value you espouse, comes from a recombining of
negations. These negations have their own qualities which then become
revealed as Value when they meet. Again this points to the underlying
nature of everything in Quality. You can't get away from it.
>> That we do not know intellectually the exact nature or dynamics
>> of this essence is exactly what MoQ is about. This is no different
>> from Essentialism in that it is difficult to understand the nature (the
>> why) of Negation. However, this does not mean that Essentialism
>> is useless, far from it, you book is very revealing. ...
> Again I beg to differ, Mark. MoQ's author didn't wrote ZMM and LILA to
> prove that the nature and workings of Quality are unknowable. Obviously he
> had developed a philosophy based on Quality and wanted to demonstrate the
> potential of this value in a moral or social context; hence, the novel
> format. He reduces subjects and objects to quality patterns, but doesn't
> explain how they are formed, what created Quality, why we are here, or where
> "betterness" leads. I consider that an incomplete philosophical exposition.
Again, Ham you need to understand what you are doing by making
something knowable. If I see a map of Hawaii, do I know Hawaii? If I
spend 5 years in Hawaii, do I know Hawaii? If I was born there and
died there, do I know Hawaii? Well the answer is yes for all three.
But the knowledge is different for each. Do I know Hawaii like
somebody else who lives there under different circumstances? The
answer is NO. So what happened to this knowledge of Hawaii? Is one
of us right and the other wrong? What is it exactly that makes this
Hawaii, anyway? What is the equation, or philosophy that will deliver
an exact understanding of the Hawaii? The workings of this "Hawaii"
are unknowable in the same way Quality is. Each person in Hawaii
creates his own knowing.
> You may find negation intellectually challenging. However it is but one
> principle in a valuistic cosmology which I have laid out in full detail,
> including the Primary Source itself and the ontology of creation, causation,
> selfness, and value-sensibility, none of which are discussed in Pirsig's
> philosophy. There is no "mystery" in my ontology. If you read 'Seizing the
> Essence' carefully, you'll see that it offers plausible answers to the
> meaning of life, why individual freedom requires our innocence of absolute
> truth, and how the essentialist perspective can lead to an authentic
Ham, why is there negation? Where does it come from? Does it
conserve energy? Where does it go after it is used? How does it
work? Where is it when it is not at work? How does it choose where
to work? What controls negation? What controls what it negates? A
little epistemology would help here.
> I'm disappointed that you don't recognize the difference between an
> evolutionary paradigm developed around a moral platitude and a cosmology
> founded on a transcendent, all-encompassing Source. (Maybe that's why
> you've stopped corresponding with me.)
Like I have said many times, Ham, Quality IS A SOURCE. It is much
simpler than one requiring a complex set of instructions which at time
seems like word play. Like I have said, I see no difference between
negation and creation.
I have read through your book, now I am reading it so see what you
really mean, and how I can relate it to my everyday life and
experience. See what set of morals I can gain from it.
Do you have something against moral platitudes? Are they false, or
are they maybe too simple? Well Quality is simple, so perhaps it is
not your cup of tea.
> Still essentially yours,
As always your friend,
ps. I never stopped corresponding with you by the way, I left the
ball in your court with my last email... :-)