Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals [Robert M. Pirsig] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. The author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Robert M. Pirsig’s MOQ deals with the fundamentals of existence and provides a more coherent system for understanding reality than our current paradigms. The author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance examines life’s essential issues as he recounts the journey down the Hudson River in.
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You can read four articles free per month. To have complete access llila the thousands of philosophy articles on this site, please. By the time of its eventual publication about seven years later it had grown to the length of a rather substantial novel.
The narrative framework is a motorcycle journey from Minnesota to California made by Pirsig and his 11 year old son Chris along with John Sutherland and his wife Sylvia. Into the story of this journey — of the places they ride through, the interactions between the characters, and looking after the motorbikes — Pirsig weaves reflections on their lives, on the relationship between technology and art; on Zen Buddhism; on Greek philosophy; and ultimately on the foundations of values.
Pirsig did have a lot of sympathy for what the hippies and young people were trying to do, but he saw that for their progressive li,a to become established they needed to pirxig their ideas in practical changes. It llila my concern here, therefore, pirsigg introduce to you, the one and only Robert Pirsig, and his Metaphysics of Quality. I hope you enjoy the ride! Pidsig Inquiry into Morals. The former is now the best-selling philosophy book of all time, having sold millions of copies in 23 languages.
Together the two books form a single Zen koan or puzzle, designed to impart an understanding of the Good or, as Pirsig would say, of Quality without putting it into a static definition. Pirsig is generally considered to be a US philosopher and writer, but he lived for a few years as a young child in England during the early s, and later returned to England in the late s, living on a boat off the coast of Cornwall.
Pirsig was generally a recluse, so, for instance, he never answered a phone. He explained his behaviour thus: It was this unsatisfactory state of affairs which gave Pirsig the inspiration to start his particular line of philosophical inquiry.
In this dialogue, Plato gave primary place to reason over emotion. Soon afterwards Aristotle was similarily emphasizing analysis over rhetoric. So now in the Pirsug we have objectivity, reason, lilx, and dialectic on the one hand; and subjectivity, emotion, imagination, intuition, and rhetoric on the other. The former terms suggest scientific respectability, while the latter are often assumed to be artistic terms, having little place in science or rationality.
It is this Platonic conception of rationality that Pirsig sought to challenge by reconciling the spiritual for example, Zenartistic for example, art and scientific for example, motorcycle maintenance realms within pirig unifying paradigm of the Metaphysics of Quality.
Sadly, Pirsig died in Aprilaged I had the good fortune to discuss these ideas extensively with Robert Pirsig himself, and have used extracts from some of his letters to clarify various points in what follows. As his system differs from traditional Western metaphysics by making values the ultimate basis of reality, it should come as no surprise that this has relatively radical consequences for his depiction of ljla.
It claims that lil legitimate human knowledge arises from the senses or by thinking [based on] what the senses provide. Most empiricists deny the validity of any knowledge gained through imagination, authority, tradition, or purely theoretical reasoning. They regard fields such as art, morality, religion, and metaphysics as unverifiable.
The Metaphysics of Quality varies from this by saying that the values of art and morality and even religious mysticism are verifiable and that in the past have been excluded for metaphysical reasons, not empirical reasons. There is no empirical evidence for this assumption at all. Unfortunately, these concepts have been pigsig in us from an early age, so we generally accept their validity without question.
But this is basically just a metaphysical convention. Pirsig would say that reality can be divided up metaphysically in numerous ways: So instead of dividing everything into subjects and objects, Pirsig lilaa reality into Dynamic Quality this is llla deliberately and static quality.
Or as Pirsig wrote in a letter to me of 6th October Concepts are always static. Nobody in the scientific world wants to allow that.
Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals
All this points to a huge fundamental metaphysical difference between the MOQ [Metaphysics of Quality] and classical science: The MOQ is truly empirical. Classical science starts with a concept of the objective world — atoms and molecules — as the ultimate reality. This concept is certainly supported by empirical observation but it is not the empirical observation itself. Their common argumentative tactic is to say that anything they cannot feed through their little box of linguistic analysis is not philosophy.
These static patterns of quality are analogous to both subjects and objects; but only analogous. Static quality patterns relate to each other in some ways which are absent from subject-object metaphysics. For instance, the Metaphysics of Quality recognizes that the four categories of static patterns I just listed are related through cosmological evolution. Taking the Big Bang as the starting point of the universe, at that point in time there were only inorganic quality patterns, that is to say, physical forces.
Cosmological evolution, which is a wider notion than biological evolution, is an important consideration in the Metaphysics of Quality, since a code of ethics can be generated from the four basic levels of quality patterns. Although Pirsig recognises that each level of static patterns has emerged from the one below, each level follows its own rules. The physical laws such as gravitational attraction inorganic evolve relatively slowly; whereas the laws of the jungle biologyco-operation between animals societyand the ideas of freedom and rights intellect evolve relatively fast.
It is important to note that the laws of the four static levels often clash: It is also important to note that the Metaphysics of Quality does not suggest that these evolutionary processes are in any sense goal-directed or part of some grand design.
The possibility that any such mechanism can exist has now been virtually ruled out by the findings of molecular biology. As Pirsig points out in Lila: This is the point at which the Metaphysics of Quality starts to depart from and update traditional Buddhist thought:. But the MOQ sees the wheel of karma as attached to a cart that is going somewhere — from quantum forces through inorganic forces and biological patterns and social patterns to the intellectual patterns that perceive the quantum forces.
In the sixth century B. The suffering which the Buddhists regard as only that which is to be escaped, is seen by the Metaphysics of Quality as merely the negative side of the progression toward Quality or, just as accurately, the expansion of Quality. Without the suffering to propel it, the cart would not move forward at all.
The Metaphysics of Quality combines the four levels of patterns to produce one overall moral framework which has a cosmological evolutionary hierarchy, in which the entity or process that has more freedom on the evolutionary scale — the one that is more Dynamic — takes moral precedence.
So for instance, a human being is seen as having moral precedence over a dog because humans are at a higher level of cosmological evolution because of our intellect. So, together with updating some Buddhist ideas in the light of modern science, the ultimate benefit of the Metaphysics of Quality is that by removing morals from social convention and placing them on a scientifically-based theory of evolution, it removes much of the cultural subjectivity that is inherent in many ethical beliefs especially religious ones.
But… it would add that this moral principle holds only where there is an abundance of grains and fruit and vegetables. Moreover, by the use of an all-encompassing point of view from the beginning of the universe, the Metaphysics of Quality produces new solutions to previously intractable metaphysical problems, including the relationship between mind and matter, the problem of causation, and the problem of free will versus determinism.
At least two of these can be solved when an evolutionary approach is applied to them as you can read in my PhD, at www. Plato was perhaps a little too over-confident in how usable his theory of Forms is in practice. I wonder if it ever crossed his mind that his mentor, Socrates, might have been hinting to him and the other young philosophy students in Athens that the Good and Beauty are actually indefinable?
The idea of Forms was, of course, invented by Plato, not Socrates.
Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals by Robert M. Pirsig
Assuming that words can capture all aspects of reality is an understandable error to make at the very beginning of the Western philosophical tradition… but having said that, it was a metaphysical error avoided by East Asian philosophy. That is, it is only lived values that can give you wisdom.
Taoist Mysteries and Magic, p. Above all, this process should be seen as an adventure in creating and discovering beautiful things. Non-Platonic texts can be helpful guides in this context. Good examples include F. So do check out the articles at www.