Ant McWatt (email@example.com)
Mon, 30 Mar 1998 22:54:19 +0100
I hope the Whitehead reference will prove useful for you.
I said I would answer your other points properly (I have
also seen Bodvar`s comment which I will reply to
separately) so here there are:
On Thu, 19 Mar 1998 17:14:47 -0500 (EST) Donald T Palmgren
> ...when I talk about Ss and Os I mean Knower and Known,
> and that should make it clear that they can only exist
> as a coupled unit (You can't have a knower who knows
> nothing, and you can't have something which is known that
> is not known by anything) and that this coupled unit > is
what we mean by "experience" -- after all YOU'VE never >
experienced anything that didn't involve these two >
> The point of a monism isn't to eliminate knower-known
> [unless you're prepared to pop on off to nirvana and none
> of us are], but to show that these two are aspects of the
> same thing: *Tat twam asi* [That thou art] as it says in
> the Upanishads.
I`ve never real given much thought to what THE point
of monism is; it seems to avoid the mind/matter problem
which appears to be its main use. I think its just best to
say "knower" and "known" are very useful concepts.
This follows the Cittamatra tradition in Buddhism which
asserts that entities exist within the flow of perceptions
but not as independent subjects and objects. As Paul
"(in)...the Cittamatra tradition ...external objects are
constituted by consciousness and do not exist apart from
it... There is only a flow of perceptions."
(Paul Williams, "Mahayana Buddhism", Routledge, 1989,
And as Herbert Guenther adds:
"...experience is the central theme of Buddhism, not
theoretical postulation and deductive verification. Since
no experience occurs more than once and all repeated
experiences actually are only analogous occurrences, it
follows that a thing or material substance can only be said
to be a series of events interpreted as a thing, having no
more substantiality than any other series of events we may
arbitrarily single out. Thus the distinction between
"mental" and "material" becomes irrelevant and it is a
matter of taste to speak of physical objects. In other
words, although we shall continue to speak about matter and
mind, we must bear in mind that it is but a figure of
speech as untrue as the statement that the sun rises or
"...there is no reason to believe that the objective
constituent of a perceptual situation is literally a
spatio-temporal part of a physical object, because the idea
of a physical object can not be abstracted from the data of
sense but is a hypothesis and is defined by postulates..."
(Herbert V. Guenther, "Philosophy and Psychology in the
Abhidharma", Random House, 1957, p.144/146).
Do you see the problem of taking the concepts of "knower"
and "known" as literal truths yet?
> ...as far as ZMM goes I seem to recall him saying
> something like "Q creates exp. (S and O) and thus is not
> itself directly experienced (we never know Q as-such [in
> itself] unless you do collapse that I-other distinction
> and zip on off to nirvana and the nut-house) and is
> neither S or O." Now obviously you can't create yourself
> ("exp. creates exp.") That's Q in it's role of the
> trancendental skyhook (the "thing in itself").
The "problem" with ZMM is that Quality is not pinned down
properly (note: this may be deliberate) and in this book it
is possible to find contradictory statements of what it is,
is not, what it creates etc. In light of SODV and LILA, I
think the best interpretation of what Pirsig means by
Quality is that it is the event of immediate experience.
At the end of chapter 19 (of ZMM) where the narrator
concludes that Quality is an event, the terminology of
subject and object is used (Quality... "is the point at
which subject and object meet") but this is because the MOQ
was not developed yet and there were no better concepts at
the time. If there had been, the above sentence would have
read something like this: "Quality is the event from which
inorganic, biological, social and intellectual patterns of
reality are derived."
> > ...Two points here, "space" is an SOM construct;
> I'm amazed no one picked that up. If space is not real
> then consequently neither is time. The universe is a
> (shall I say "mere") illusion and what really exists is a
> trancendent unity which is (by definition) non-spacial
> and atemporal. That's called trancendent mysticism.
> Eastern "philosophy" is saturated w/it (I'm not saying
> that's bad) and German Idealism plays seriously close to
> it. Now is that P's position?
Yes, I think it is, though I`m not too sure about the
"illusion" part; "appearance" might be a better word.
Anyway (in the context of the SODV paper) this is what
Pirsig wrote to me about space:
"I have thought about Bell`s theorem and what it might mean
for the MOQ and so far have concluded that this theorem is
just more of the same subject-object mess. "Local" and
"non-local" presume a physical space. Physical space is a
subjective intellectual pattern which is presumed to to
correspond to an objective inorganic pattern. These
patterns are so entrenched they are some of the last to
disappear during the enlightenment process, but before pure
Dynamic Quality is understood they must go. The
"nothingness" of Buddhism has nothing to do with the
"nothingness" of physical space. That`s one of the
advantages in calling it "Quality" instead of
"nothingness". It reduces the confusion".
(letter to Anthony McWatt, June 1st 1996)
> And if so, why waste all that paper on
> LILA -- what's the point of talking about
> evolutionary levels if space and
> time don't really exist anyway?...
> Now we're back at Kant's time paradox. To create
> something -- to cause something, to give birth to--
> requires time! First A; then A causes B; then B.
> Nothing can create time. That's where Kant said that the
> universe doesn't exist (See the "Kant on Recursion"
I can`t find this reply Donny, so please re-post it.
Causation is another redundant SOM concept so I don`t know
how that would effect Kant`s time paradox.
> and this is where the Upanishads say that the world is
> illusory (and this is where metaphysics starts getting
> "DQ and SQ come in after the unity, Q, divides."
> Or another way to look at it is this: DQ is the unity,
> the in itself, a mere theoretical potentiality that is
> necessarily unrealized; and SQ is the manifold of exp. --
> All this confusion is what results from taking the
> question as a blank to be filled in. I shouldn't do that.
> Let me back off and start over again. See if the next
> mail is any clearer.
Your comments here made me laugh Donny as things can get
VERY confusing at this level...
I don`t know if the following will be helpful to you but
Pirsig has said numerous times that the MOQ is a pragmatic
theory (i.e. for practical purposes it is useful to
conceptualise things; to do so improves our lives
immensely). The MOQ (AS WITH EVERY OTHER THEORY)is not
literally or ultimately true. At least Pirsig recognises
the limitations of human conceptualising unlike numerous
other writers. In LILA, for instance, the evolutionary
levels were just the best way for Pirsig to conceptualise
reality at that time.
And talking about time, Robert Harris (the physicist Bodvar
introduced me to) said the "measurement" of "before and
after" in units of time is analogous to measuring the depth
of a river with a ruler. Time orders reality as
much as the ruler orders the river i.e. it is just a
useful measuring tool - the difficulties arise when people
start thinking time literally exists in its own right. It
doesn`t! Or do you think it`s better to go along with Kant
and say time exists but the universe doesn`t? I know which
theory I like better but I think it would be best for me to
see that paradox of Kant`s before totally dismissing it.
I look forward to your next mail then,
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