LS Re: Senses

Jason Gaedtke (
Fri, 26 Sep 1997 17:46:08 +0100

On Thursday, September 25, 1997 1:14 PM, Diana McPartlin
[] wrote:
> Magnus:
> > And I don't think Pirsig really defined the levels anywhere, he gave
> > examples but that's not definitions.
> Sorry I kicked myself as soon as I saw the word "definition". I'm
> realizing that when you're talking about the MoQ it's so easy to use
> words casually and then find out later that you've tripped yourself up.
> Anyway, of course Pirsig hasn't given definitions of the values. Nor
> will he ever, nor will anyone else. It is impossible. The whole concept of a
> definition is intellectual. But biological and social value can only be
> explained in biological and social terms. It doesn't make any sense to
> try and explain them intellectually. To do so is like trying to explain
> what chocolate tastes like. You can't. The only way you can explain it
> is by giving the other person a piece so that they can taste it
> themselves.
> The only way that Pirsig could explain the values was by throwing enough
> examples at us so that eventually we would figure out what he was on
> about.
> Diana

Have to take issue with you here, Diana. Language does have some definite
limitations. IMHO, that is a point that should never be overlooked or denied.
 However, if we can't come to some shared consensus on what we mean when we use
the words "biological patterns of value" or "social patterns of value," then we
can't possibly hope to discuss them on the intellectual level or anywhere else.
 (In fact, if we can't offer a definition of these terms, then perhaps we
shouldn't be using them in the first place. This seems to be the way of the
Zen masters.) If we are going to operate within the realm of logic and reason,
then shouldn't we must commit ourselves all the way?

We must realize that anything that we say regarding Quality is only an
approximation which is useful for our "finite minds." However, I don't see how
we can hope to improve our understanding of these ideas without positing some
working definitions. The illustrative examples that you and Pirsig himself
refer to are the first steps toward an "understanding" of the MoQ. Definitions
are the next logical step in its evolution.

We are in no way limiting or controlling the lower levels by developing some
working definitions. As such, I'm have some difficulty understanding the
resistance that the call for clarification has received from some (but not all,
of course) of the members on this list. Wouldn't some solid fundamentals aid
us in our quest to spread these ideas?


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