LS Re: The definition of Quality.

Dave Thomas (
Mon, 15 Dec 1997 18:09:33 +0100

Hi Peter & Matt

Nice to hear from y'all. Nothing like a dangle of ignorance to bring lurkers
out of the woods. Thanks for filling me in on the essentials of quantum

>" But quantum theory has destroyed the idea that [ONLY] properties located
> > in external physical objects have reality."
> Did he actually say this?
Not only did he say it he wrote it down. See the text of Pirsigs SODV paper
presented in Brussels in 1995 in Lila Squad forum.

>Quantum Theory destroyed the idea of an perfectly objective observer,

Agree, This is one of the most basic points of MoQ.

> but I'm not entirely convinced that it "destroyed the idea that only properties located in
> external physical objects have reality". I don't understand what exactly this "idea" is.
> The "external" here is in reference to what? External to the observer's body? External to
> some undefined "conscience"? (kind of a mind-body split here?)

This just shows that even the most MoQed of people (Pirsig) have a hard time
slipping the bonds of SoM. IMO the "idea" Pirsig is refering to is that
Western philosophy (SoM) primarily though the influence of its daughter branch
modern science have as Barrett (Death of the Soul pp7) put it:

 "Yet, with all its inherent paradoxes, scientific materialism, was to become
de facto the dominant mentality of the West in the three and a half centuries
that followed. It ruled not so much as an explicit and articulate philosophy,
but more potently as an unspoken attitude, habit and prejudice of mind. An in
this unspoken form, it is still regnant today."

And one of the most basic tenants of science that evolved under SoM is the
primacy of "objectivity". A brief review of philosophy during the same period
shows a decided trend in defining reality similarly. Now science though the
quantum theory has called "objectivity" into question by as you said by
"destroy[ing] the idea of a perfectly objective observer" So what Pirsig says
is that it's not a scientific problem, or even a philosophical problem, but a
metaphysical problem created by a de facto metaphysical split of reality into
subjects and objects. If it were not for that split we would not be having
this discussion.

> The question "would the sun, earth, stars disappear or change in any way"
> is an interesting one. It is essentially identical to the question, "does
> the universe exist after I am dead?" The answer, from a strictly
> quantum-theoretical-esque point of view, is "Mu. You do not exist to
> perform any experiments on the Universe, hence it is *meaningless* to ask
> such a question." The trouble is that by asking such a question you have
> already essentially assumed the objective existence of the Universe.

This shows the crux of the problem. Take a little time over the holidays to
ponder this from a quatum-theoretical-esque point of view. Lets assume that
the words subject and object do not exist had never been invented. But Quality
with the subdivisions Static and Dynamic and the four Static subdivisions were
in their place. How would you then answer the question? Don't assume I have an
answer because I don't.

Happy Holiday thoughts


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