LS Retrospect

Platt Holden (
Fri, 26 Sep 1997 03:03:43 +0100

In response to Jason's invitation to define the four static levels, here's
my simplistic view, based on high school curricula:

INORGANIC: Physics, chemistry
SOCIAL: History.
INTELLECTUAL: English, math.

>From this elementary structure, the divide-to-conquer intellect takes off
on a reductionist romp. Just to take one example, the Earth Sciences
(inorganic level) get knifed into mineralogy, petrology, geochemistry,
geophysics, geomorphology, paleontology, hydrology, oceanography,
meteorology, etc. Similar slices can be found in all branches of knowledge.

Reductionism has worked so well to expand knowledge and improve the quality
of life that that we worship at its feet. But with the discovery of the
quantum world, those feet have turned to feet of clay, requiring an
entirely new metaphysics that steers intellect away from its now stymied
and flummoxed methodology.

Enter Pirsig. Instead of viewing the world as consisting of wholes and
parts (the basic assumption of reductionism), Pirsig suggests we view the
world as a moral order.

Boom! Suddenly all the favorite interests of the intellect shift.
Definitions take a backseat to examples and metaphors. Things like harmony,
beauty, elegance, artfulness take center stage. Occam' s razor is elevated
to prominence. A child's innocence becomes an indicator of truth, and
intuition lights the path.

So I think I'll stick to my simplistic definitions lest I get lured backed
into the labyrinthian tunnels of the old intellectual edifice where, as
Pirsig says, nobody wins (except perhaps those rascally robots).

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