transcript of the “Metaphysics of Quality: A New
Paradigm for Values & Healing” discussion
Pirsig with Leland ‘Chip’ Baggett - Part 3
from Part 2...
This is the third tape of the
“Metaphysics of Quality: A New Paradigm for Values & Healing” with Robert
Pirsig and Chip Baggett.
Pirsig: After you publish a book, the
sales, kind of are the thing you start paying more attention
to than what you've said… well this is one of these asides
that I seem to do better than the actual main thing... After
your book is published, authoring, its sales and how it is
moving and what's happening all become enormously
fascinating to you… so when I heard the news today that
the students at Berkeley are picking up on LILA, that they
are raving about it. This is just like Christmas for me.
It's a wonderful occasion. Okay. I hope it will continue to
grow. As they said at Bantam when I made my presentation to
them, I said I did not write this book to entertain people.
I wrote this book to tell them something. And it looks like
the message is getting through.
Okay, now where are we?
Chip: We're maybe at the crossroads. Bob
has said that basically in terms of the dissemination of the
high level idea, he's pretty well done. The thought is, and
part of the workshop is, to look at how that really applies
to consciousness and how it applies to psychotherapy and
healing. So one thought would be… we've got an
experiential exercise designed to basically let you
experience Dynamic/static… back and forth for a little
while to give you a real taste of what the shift is in terms
of subjective experience. And then, to come back to that and
we process that and get Bob to make responses. Or both of us
depending on what kind of questions they are to that
process. And from there lead to specifically then: What's
the application in psychotherapy? Does that sound agreeable
to you? Or do you want something different than that?
Note: Now follows the exercise which is
not transcribed here except for Pirsig's comments.
Pirsig: The multiplicity of minds is
accommodated by the MOQ. It says you can have many mental
patterns and many people do. The characteristics of the
narrator of ZMM are one pattern that was in my mind. The
characteristics of Phædrus are an entirely another pattern
in my mind. Those two patterns hate each other. Of course,
the primary definition, the early definition of
schizophrenia was two separate minds, a split personality
you see going on. The MOQ will say that you can split a
personality in lots of ways. These patterns which we call
our minds are the result of separate paths of karmic history
that come into our life, events and so on and we don't
really reconcile those very much. When you are dealing with
your mother when you were a kid you were one kind of kid.
When you're dealing with your buddies you were another kind
of kid. You never really reconcile these two patterns. So I
would say that what you are saying; there can be many minds,
is accommodated in the structure of things.
Chip: Now on to insanity?
Pirsig: On to insanity! Now, the moral
problem that keeps coming up and I think you are ready for
another dose of metaphysics here. I think I've jumped ahead
and back and forth a little an so maybe repeating a little
of what I said.
One of the problems that the MOQ solves is
the problem of evolutionary purpose. There has been this
quarrel between those who say life has no purpose and those
who say life does have a purpose. And, scientifically the
people who say life has no purpose have got the upper hand
in this particular metaphysical battle. I don't think they
have it right but they have the upper hand. In terms of
popularity of opinion. I think if you ask most people they
would say life really does have no purpose. If they're
educated the way I was anyway. But the MOQ contradicts that
and the theory had arrived in his mind several months ago
with this statement: "All life is a migration of static
patterns of quality toward Dynamic Quality".
Some people who've have read LILA, some
very intelligent people say that's the most important
statement in the book. There is a lot of groundwork laid for
it in the earlier heavy high level metaphysics. But this is
a statement that's got a real bite in it, that really
concerns all of us. That concerns where mankind is going and
where isn't it? Are we just mechanical people who are
blindly obeying forces of cause and effect? Or are we
something else which has a purpose? The MOQ very much
supports the idea of purpose. It says Quality is the
purpose... "but it doesn't define it. It had been
boiling in his mind ever since that in a traditional
substance-centred metaphysics life isn't evolving toward
anything. Life is just an extension of properties of atoms
and nothing more. It has to be that because atoms and
varying forms of energy are all there is. With the MOQ
what's evolving isn't patterns of atoms. What's evolving is
static patterns of value. And while that doesn't change the
data of evolution it completely up-ends the interpretation
that can be given to evolution." (LILA, Chapter
Now, I have a quote here where he says:
"It seems clear that there is no mechanistic pattern
toward which life is heading, but has the question been
taken up of whether life is heading away from mechanistic
patterns?" (LILA, Chapter
11) The groundwork of the MOQ has
allowed you to make the statement that life is no longer
heading toward a particular pattern which no scientist has
ever been able to find in evolution. But it does allow you
to make the statement that life is evolving nevertheless
toward Quality which is un-patterned.
Side 2 of Tape 3
Pirsig: "It seems clear that no
mechanistic pattern exists toward which life is heading, but
has the question been taken up of whether life is heading
away from mechanistic patterns? It doesn't make any sense.
It seems to say that all life is headed toward chaos since
chaos is the only alternative to structural patterns that a
law-bound metaphysics can conceive. But Dynamic Quality is
not structured and yet it is not chaotic. It is value that
cannot be contained by static patterns...
Because of this different
metaphysical orientation Phædrus saw instantly that those
seemingly trivial, 'spur of the moment' decisions that
direct the progress of evolution are, in fact Dynamic
Quality itself." (LILA, Chapter 11)
"That when a bird decides to mate with some
other bird that looks a little better and moves on up into a
higher level of evolution that was a Dynamic decision. It
wasn't a patterned decision, but it was that Dynamic
decision that made that species evolve. "Naturally
there is no mechanism toward which life is heading.
Mechanisms are the enemy of life. The more static and
unyielding the mechanisms are, the more life works to evade
them or overcome them. The law of gravity, for example, is
perhaps the most ruthlessly static pattern of order in the
universe. So, correspondingly, there is no single living
thing that does not thumb its nose at that law day in day
out." (LILA, Chapter 11)
And I said that
bacteria just get around on their cilia. I said that the
degree to which life violates the law of gravity is almost a
measure of its evolutionary status. I said that bacteria
just barely get around on their cilia I said and earthworms
get some sense of direction up and down. And birds can fly
high up in the sky or lower down but man goes all the way up
to the moon. So life is in a sense a violation of a law of
physics. An evasion of a law of physics using its
mechanisms, its patterns of lower levels of physics to
accomplish this end. And I used some other laws, as I
remember, the Second Law of Thermodynamics which claims that
all life is running down like a clock. It says for example,
there is no such thing possible as perpetual motion. This is
one of these great things. It can't be done. But if you look
at life it IS perpetual motion. It's going on, it's getting
more complicated. We're having over-population problems.
We're building sky-scrapers higher and higher. If that is
not perpetual motion I don't know what is. So the MOQ does
allow a purpose to be added to the data of evolution without
violating any of the facts of evolution without
contradicting any scientific maxims that I know of. I
haven't heard yet from the evolutionists on this. I think
they are just kind of waiting to… I don't know what they
are doing. I haven't heard from any anthropologist on this
book. In fact psychologists are the first and most lively
people to respond to this book. Chip takes some honours as
being one on the top.
Question: In terms of what you were saying
a few minutes ago about life... moving towards Dynamic
Quality. You said that human aside, that makes our attempt
futile in the sense that attempts at trying to keep this and
others from vanishing from the face of the earth not only
does that illustrate that futility in the sense of that it
also raises the issue of would it be more static to try to
maintain moving life forward toward?
Pirsig: A good moral question and there we
can hang on to that and get it into the question of morals
which comes up later on. There are a lot of wonderful,
popular issues that can be fitted into the morals of the MOQ.
And lets put in …lets put in birth control. That's a
beautiful one. Let's put in capital punishment. Let's put in
vegetarianism. These are all very popular issues which I
don't think a subject-object metaphysics can even talk about
let alone solve. But I think the MOQ will give you a matrix
in which you can place these moral problems and that's about
what I am trying to get to here so let's hang on to that.
So... recapitulating what I just said…
"There is no quarrel whatsoever between the MOQ and the
Darwinian Theory of Evolution. Neither is there a quarrel
between the MOQ and the 'teleological' theories which
suggest that life has some purpose. What the MOQ has done is
unite these opposed doctrines within a larger metaphysical
structure that accommodates both of them without
contradiction. (LILA, Chapter 11)
Have I made it clear to you that there are
four levels of evolution? I think I have talked about that
and you've picked it up from the book if I haven't talked
about it. These levels are evolving toward Dynamic Quality
and we now make the assertion that this evolution toward
Dynamic Quality is a moral process. We can now have a
scientific definition of morality. It says Quality is
morality. They are identical. The MOQ says that if moral
judgements are essentially assertions of value and if value
is the fundamental ground stuff of the world then moral
judgements are the fundamental ground stuff of the world...
So what Phædrus was saying was that not
just life but everything is ethical. There is nothing else.
Now, he says that this betterness, this motion to a higher
Quality by the evolutionary process is an elementary unit of
ethics upon which all right and wrong can be based. He says
the basis of morals is conflicts is evolution of static
patterns toward Dynamic Quality. The static patterns that
hold one level of organisation together are often the same
patterns that another level of organisation must fight to
maintain its own existence. Morality is not a simple set of
rules but a very complex struggle of conflicting patterns of
values. The conflict is the residue of evolution. As new
patterns evolve they come into conflict with older ones.
Each stage of evolution creates in its wake a wash of
problems. And it is out of this struggle between conflicting
static patterns that the concepts of good and evil arise.
(see LILA, Chapter 13)
So, it says there is not just one moral
system. There are many. And each of these sets of moral
codes is no more related to the others than novels are to
flip-flops it says. There is a morality called the 'Laws of
Nature' by which inorganic nature triumphs over chaos. There
is a morality called, I'm repeating myself but I'll say it
again, there is a morality called 'the Law of the Jungle'
where biology triumphs over the inorganic forces of
starvation. There is a morality where social patterns
triumph over biology; the 'Law'.
This is the basis of the bulk of our
Then there's a conflict between biological
patterns of quality and social patterns of quality. And I
brought in the example of Lila because this is a beautiful
moral problem that kind of created the dynamic tension of
the book. There is a rule in writing that you get your
heroes up a tree, throw rocks at them and then you get them
down again. Now, Phædrus is caught in an immoral situation
with this Lila. And Richard Rigel comes up and he says
'Okay', he says in effect 'Does Lila have Quality?' See? And
what he is trying to say is 'Are you engaged in a moral
act?' And he's really got him on a spot. And Phædrus uses
the MOQ… he's got him up a tree so to speak and we throw
rocks at him through these scenes(??) but he gets down in
this scenario by way of the MOQ. He says: 'Biologically you
bet she has Quality, I enjoyed her all night long you know?
But socially you're right, she has no quality whatsoever,
she's a whore.' See, these two static patterns of quality
are in a war with each other. Throughout our society. And
this is a basis of a huge part of what we call morals.
Church of the Minorites by Lyonel
Now, the MOQ says that's is very important…
that's the centre of our moral universe but, boy, there is
more morals than that. And it goes on. It says there is
another whole class of morals which has nothing to do with
this conflict between society and biology. And this is the
conflict between intellect and society. And here you have
another whole story. And here you get the kind of conflict
that has occurred between the Medieval Church which, in its
battle against sin, a battle against biological vice, a
battle against the destruction of the family, a battle
against a crime of every sort, has done an enormously moral
job according to the MOQ. Suddenly it is also battling
against freedom of speech. And suddenly they're here. The
Medieval Church which is the hero of one kind of battle of
morality suddenly becomes the villain of another kind of
battle of morality which says that the higher level
intellect is morally superior than the lower level society.
And a huge fight for democracy in this country has been part
of that battle. The fight for jury trials, the fight for
civil rights, human rights as they are called. Largely a
fight for the right of people to think freely and believe
freely without being coerced by some system of government,
some system of society that says you must think this way,
So I say we have confused here, in the
past, in morality two entirely different systems of morality
in one. Beyond this there is yet another level of morality.
The morality of Art. It says, look, this is good, this is
beautiful, I don't care if it's true. I don't care if it's
popular. I don't care if it's healthy. It's what I want. It
is Art. And this is yet another level of morality. It is a
fight between Dynamic Quality to some extent and static
And so, these levels of morality provide a
wonderful matrix by which very many quarrels, very many
popular arguments that we are having today, can be placed. I
found, I must say, that I have tried to use it to grind my
own, personal moral axes, you know, moral issues I feel on
one side of them. And I have tried to get the MOQ to work
for me on my side and usually I can. But I also find it
often supports the other guy just as much as it does me. It
explains our battle. It doesn't take sides. Typical example
of this is I really believe very strongly in population
control. I'm very much in favour of choice. And the MOQ, the
morality of the MOQ supports me in this view. It says
society is more moral than biology. Society has a right to
control free multiplication of cells into new bodies.
Society is a morally superior group. The other side,
however, gets its acts polished too by the same system of
morality which says yes, but this life which society is
about to extinguish, is Dynamic. See, so the life-people
have an argument too. What the MOQ has done in this morality
is taken this enormous head-on collision between two moral
patterns in our society and placed them in a matrix which
can explain them more deeply than they've been explained
It says that you've got two different
battles here. A battle of Dynamic Quality versus static
quality. A battle of social quality versus biological
quality. The 'choice-people' are arguing social quality, the
right of the living, social society to regulate its
population is a moral right. The 'life-people' are saying a
human being is not just a carcass. It's a Dynamic entity
which can grow and produce new ideas. I think they are both
right. Even though they directly contradict each other. Even
though they've got to work this out in the courts and in the
slogan shouting and sign carrying battles that go on. The
MOQ says that they are both right. How is it going to be
decided? It's going to be decided, ultimately, by the
ballot-box. Which is another moral system which takes
precedence over the advocates of these two groups. So what I
think the MOQ has done here is it's given us a way to grow
in our understanding of morals. These are, as far as I know,
scientific principles. It's not saying the church is right
or the church is wrong or democracy is right or democracy is
wrong. There is a whole spectrum of evolution going on and
in the process of this evolution what's good for one level
of evolution will be bad for another and so on. So that's
really what I had to say about morality in general.
Now into specific: spotted owls to get
back to your question. I love examples because this stuff
gets so abstract that people kind of drop off and the reason
for including Lila is because she is an example of this, of
this problem of morality.
Question: It might be in terms of our
discussion now that, I don't know about someone else but it
might be that a more personal question like, in a group like
this that a smoking issue. If something that can be more
personal to us here rather than…
Pirsig: Sure, why don't I, having said
what I've said, allow some discussion on this problem and
stop just lecturing? Does that sound good? What do people
think? Can we take an issue called 'smoking' and…
Comment: You say they're are different morals and values… so
now what? I'm kind of caught in now we know there are two
different names for… . So now what? What is the
metaphysics…(Pirsig: How is it going to be applied?) What
is the next step here? Well, let's say your son comes to you
and wants to start smoking in your house or a restaurant and
there's a sign that says "NO Smoking" in the
restaurant. What do you say to your son now?
Pirsig: Well, I would say, if he is
underage "I am the boss in this house and I say: 'No
and that's it. And if he challenges me, I'll throw him out.
Comment: [What] if he says I have a right to
smoke in this restaurant?
Pirsig: That is a public place, I
have no control over that. Society has control over that.
Society says he can't smoke… [and] society has a right to control
individual, biological behaviour. Here is a case of where a
guy just has a biological quality like smoking and resents it when people say:
"no smoking!" You
know, because I say "I've got this right. I like to smoke.
What are you stopping me for?"
Interjection: Society most of the time will
Pirsig: Society has a right to control
smoking. According to the MOQ. Which is not just the right
of the sheriff, but is a moral right based on the higher
evolution of man.
Comment: There is one thing I feel your
missing in the static and Dynamic relationship and that is
the cyclic aspect of the Dynamic and static. Could you have
taken in consideration the plant in its early, flexible
state and then its old age and then its death. Life and
death is a complete cycle. And we as human beings only see
the life part of that cycle. So if you take your construct
into consideration you have to include, incorporate in the
evolutionary movement, destiny, purpose, and incarnation. So
is there this sense of our developing a sensory capacity to
perceive Quality? And does that evolve throughout the
history of human evolution? That's a big E but you have to
address it. It won't let you alone...
Pirsig: As I understand it., you are
speaking of the entire process of evolution as being
violated by life and death. Is that what you're… maybe I'm
not getting it.
Comment: Well, let's see what I am not
saying. What I hear you saying is that this static and
Dynamic are separate things (Pirsig: No, they're all
Quality) … and the Quality , the Quality goes through the
experience of birth and death.
Pirsig: Sure! I have no quarrel with that.
Comment: …and that becomes experience
out of which reflections of…
Pirsig: This word 'experience' is, I
suspect, is social experience. Is that what you're speaking
Comment: Well, I'm speaking of the whole
experience of what 'self' is including the social-Dynamic.
Because if you look at the social-Dynamic you have to see it
as having evolved to being able to discriminate as to what
is moral, what is open ended, what is a dead end. And that
is experiential. And out of that, somehow, we glean where it
is that we need to guide ourselves in the open matrix, in
the Quality aspect as opposed to in the static aspect. That
gives us the choices of , you know, our imagination and
creativity. And that develops the senses that are evolving
to perceive the, you know that totality called Quality.
Pirsig: It sounds to me like we're saying
the same thing.
Comment: Well, I'm not quite sure I think
that's the case.
Observation: Is he asking if we can guide
ourselves in a Dynamic direction?
Observation: I am just wondering if that
is possible at all.
Pirsig: Can we guide ourselves in a
Observation: If you are guiding yourself
this would be no longer Dynamic.
Pirsig: This will switch me in Zen. I'm
a Zen Buddhist although not socially, not an active member
of any Zen organisation. It seems to me the purpose of
meditation is to discover Dynamic Quality. People think of
Zen sometimes as a lot of tricks. A lot of stunts and a lot
of strange things but Zen is primarily interested in
Morality and in Good. It says, if you want to study Morality
you want to study the Good, get rid of the static patterns
and see the DQ that guides the Good. Once you get in tune
with it, once you get a hold of it, once you understand it
this Dynamic mooring, this DQ will guide you directly.
There's an endless confrontation between intellect and this
DQ of Zen where intellect is constantly trying to grab it.
The central problem I started on all this was the strange
conflict called the East-West conflict. It's an ancient
problem of philosophy as Jack Hawley, sitting here, can tell
you. It's in his book. (5)
The East and the West are like two fish
each of which claims has devoured the other. The East says 'we
know all about Western philosophy. It's all contained in
what we know'. Western philosophy says: 'yes we know about
that Eastern stuff, it's all contained in what we know'. And
this is the ancient problem of how do you relate these two.
Now, in the Zen practice what we do…in the Eastern
philosophy they will say that the world is, I think they'll
agree pretty much, that the world is primarily moral. A lot
of this MOQ will sound, to those who know Buddhism and
Hinduism, very much like what they're saying. And they will
tell you, in answer to your question that if you want to
know what DQ is that should lead your life, now I'm talking
culture, Japanese culture, Hindu culture, they say, either
become a monk and learn DQ or listen to what the monks tell
you and follow the static patterns they give you. They call
these two kinds of Quality: dharma. And that is also in
Jack's book. Dharma literally means: 'duty'. But not exactly
duty to others but, more or less, duty to oneself. And they
say, there are two kinds of dharma that you can follow:
there is the written dharma which is static patterns of
morals which the Buddhist will gladly hand you out on a
piece of paper. But they will also tell you there is an
unwritten code of morals which you will never discover on
any piece of paper but which you can discover by going
through meditation or through many other kinds of practices
to the centre of your own life and discovering it that way.
So that, I think is how, if one wants to
follow DQ, one should do it. I'm happy to learn that a very
large percentage of this group knows a lot about meditation.
Comment: …I'm a person who as far as I
know and to the best of my ability searching for DQ and I
assert that you wouldn't have to become a monk to do it. And
that, if you're really committed to following DQ, searching
for it and that's you goal and that's your purpose, what
difference would it make how you spend your moments?
Pirsig: I tend to also disagree with the
Buddhists on this matter. I don't think you have to be a
monk. I think you just play out your life properly. There is
another form of… . The monks practice djana yoga, which is
translated into Ch'an and Zen. That means meditation
practice but there are other kinds of the ancient practices
leading to an understanding of DQ. And one of them is just
living out your life and doing good deeds you know. You see
what's good. Somebody needs something, you help them. That's
finding the Dynamic way. You don't have to look up in a book
to see whether you ought to help or not. You're going to
know you ought to help. Yes?
Comment: It's simply simple in terms of
what we are doing the exercises for: watch yourself, pay
attention to the inner self and learn what the inner self is
and that's the way.
Pirsig: That's the way. Yes?
Comment: I would like to respond to your
question. I don't think you have to be a monk. I've been
meditating for years and I'm not a monk. I've met people
today like yourself who invest their time and their energy
in prayer all the time. And I think that if you meet your
inner being, your god, your whatever you want to give a name
or a title to in your own prayer and you meet yourself…people
do it all the time… .
Chip: There's another side to this or
another angle because if you take it into, if you use the
Dynamics of Quality you could see…now, I really hesitate
to do this because we tend to think of morality in Victorian
terms and I don't mean it that way but if you follow it in
terms of DQ, in terms of being stuck in static patterns
rather than Dynamic process then one way of really looking
at someone who comes in, who is troubled, into your office,
a client for psychotherapy, is look at their relationship to
Dynamic and static quality. The difficulty, the trickiness
in that, to me which is represented in a television show
that came out years ago  with Patrick McGoohan and it's called
I don't know if you ever saw this. A sort of
an avant-garde, unusual show where he was captured and taken
to some island. He didn't know who his captors were or why
he was caught or where he was. But the series was his
attempt to escape. Every week there would be another
attempt. And what would happen is, the geniuses that had him
captured knew how to simulate his experience of escaping. So
he kept escaping, he thought, even all the way back to
London, to his apartment to only find at the end of the show
that, no, they had created a replica of his apartment that
they wanted him to think that he had escaped to. But that
itself was part of the prison. It's a very unusual show and
this went on week after week. (6)
Comment: Are you saying that we are all
prisoners of life?
Chip: I am but when somebody comes to the
office, a client, very often I will have people will say to
me, because they've learned the language, well I'm feeling
whole today. Well, my sense of wholeness has nothing to do
with how you feel today. That usually is a static pattern
given the name 'Dynamic'. And so people come in, kind of
read their finding they're static patterns in terms of dynamic
language. But they are still clinging to a static pattern.
And so if you are looking at it from a morality standpoint
what do I as a therapist, what is my moral stand? I guess
you asked that question.
Pirsig: You've got a moral there. When you
are freeing this patient from the static patterns and making
his life more Dynamic then you are engaged in a moral act.
Comment: Or, maybe when you are giving a
lifeline to the patient who was caught in the Dynamic
patterns, back into the static patterns…
Pirsig: A static pattern that he has to
have. When you are adjusting this … Maybe, it could be
that there is this situation where some patients need to go
one way, some need to go the other and by supplying the
necessary advice which balances their life properly you're
giving them the moral [guidance required]…
Comment: One reaction I have from reading
your two books was, they both were very male oriented.
Pirsig: That's true.
Comment continues: So it raises the
question of what would all this be about if you had written
it from a female perspective? You bring up the East and West
split and then I think another major split is male-female.
And the biological, societal and intellectual views from
that morality… [of] a
male-female perspective. Now, a moral question I have myself
as a therapist is: "Can I effectively work with
Pirsig: This is a huge question. As matter
of fact the one book that I may, work on resulted from a
feeling that I was… I was so excited to get into this
thing. One of the reasons I had Lila in there and step on
the boat is because Lila is in a sense in a separate
culture. A separate sub-culture of our society and has
different static values which she is entitled to have. And
for me to impose male values on Lila is wrong. If they are,
in fact, not what fits for a particular situation. It got
too hard. I dropped it. I thought I'll do it some other
time. I can't get it into this book. This book is already
too complicated. But that would be the direction to go. I
think, this is a thing that has been fascinating me for
years. When I lived in India, I noticed that there was a
I didn't just notice it, I saw it in the form of
bodies there. A clash between the Muslims and the Hindus.
That ancient clash has been going on since thousands of
years. And I also noted that there were two types of family
structure: one I would see in a Muslim family and one I
would see in a Hindu family. And in the Hindu family what I
saw most frequently was a strong mother and a rather
good-natured, easy going father. And what I saw in the
Muslim family was a family pretty much like my own, a
Prussian-German family in which the father was the authority
figure and the mother better go along with it.
accounts for why my writing is that way. I don't fight this.
I say, this is who I am. But it occurred to me that a lot of
ethnic conflict can result from these two different cultural
static patterns. Mixing with one another and saying, 'these
guys are no good on the other side because they don't have,
you know they are inferior to us because they don't live up
to our values'. You know, you see this over and over again.
You go to the other group and they say, you know, they are
inferior to us because they don't live up to our values.
[I was sailing] the
boat that's in LILA... in the border of Belgium and the
Netherlands… same thing! The Dutch are saying: 'Ah, the
Belgians are just…ah…worthless people you know?' And the
Belgians (we were talking to both groups), the Belgians would
say: 'Ah the Dutch they'll never go half way you know. They
stand up there and are all stiff and you can't reach them.
You can't talk to them and they won't do anything for you.'
And we began to see that the same thing happened, that the
Dutch family is a very male-dominated family. But a Belgian
family much less so. They are much more of a warm-hearted,
easy going people. The Dutch are awfully hard on themselves.
I don't know what culture it is. They keep their windows
clean. They keep their streets clean. They regulate their
lives everything… But the Belgians are kind of relaxed
you know. And maybe we'll do it today or maybe not. Yes?
Comment: They have a separate biological
level. The morality of sperm is different than the morality
Pirsig: I would say so. It goes that deep.
I agree with that. Yes?
Question: Can your concept straighten out
issues such as racism?
Pirsig: That's why I dropped it because I
don't want to get into that at this point. It's a dynamite
issue. Moynihan (7) started to bring up the fact, you remember
the question: "Are black families matriarchal and is
that a cause of the conflict between whites and
blacks?" And there was a fire-storm over it. And he got
hell for it. And I have always wondered about that, as an
intellectual. Is there any truth in that cause? Is there a
parallelism between what happened to Hindus and Muslims
between what's happening to whites and blacks in this
country? Remember I told you last night that there is this
third book which may get into this. The rule for me is
truth, you know. As I can understand it. How it will come
out... I don't know.
Comment: I was thinking that there is so
much in that respect in my understanding of, and my
partner's understanding of racism and the need for people to
have others to look down on them... (Pirsig: yes, absolutely) It has nothing to do, necessarily, with family
structure. It has to do with feelings of personal insecurity
and a need to have, you know, to create victims somehow. And
the question I am trying to ask is: Can this be explained or
better understood using Dynamic and static quality.
Pirsig: I hope so. I don't know yet. I
really don't but I hope so. As I say, you're working in a
minefield as you know and it's very important that I not
make claims that aren't true, because you hurt people that
way. This racial thing is just a nightmare for everybody in
this country. I was one of the people who worked, trying to
integrate you know back in the fifties and it just tore us
to pieces, watching this thing happen. And I said, here's
these two groups of fine people hating each other and it
just hurt so badly. I said, maybe we can find an
intellectual solution to this. Not a solution of 'those guys
are no good' or 'those guys are no good' which you can hear
year after year after year until we're so sick of it we
can't stand it. And I think, maybe, this MOQ can do it. But
I don't know. I haven't written it yet but I'll try. Yes?
Question: One thing we have to keep in
mind here is the relationship of the individual to the
truth. What we historically identify with is the tribal
group and that has changed and evaporated(??) and that comes
down to family and so on. But really what we are talking
about is the universality of the individuality and where
that quality is in relationship to this external dialogue
that we call 'social life', 'world' etc. Until we keep
that reference, which is the foundation of our government by
the way, it's the hierarchy upside down. As opposed to power
coming downward its that which welds within which can be
opened up. And that's the only asset and resource that we
Pirsig: Well, solutions, when they are
found will come Dynamically. Is that what you're saying?
Comment: I'm saying, they come out of
recognition of that Dynamic which dwells within the
individual ego. It's not outside.
Pirsig: I say the ego is a static
Comment: I don't mean egotism but I mean
that which holds self together in an identity. And the
manner and structure of that identity is the complexity out
of which we are trying to find out what part of that is
real. And I am suggesting that comes out of knowing 'self';
not from the outer.
Pirsig: Well, this gets interesting again
because with the Zen people they're saying that the ultimate
thing is the self centred on the self. Okay. There we got
Question: But we're also touching on power
and change and it does not only involve individuals but
groups have power. You know, we haven't touched on the
dynamics involved in that, in bringing about change. And I
think that is one of the great hurdles when you talk about
Pirsig: The power structures, the power
groups?! It's a social problem but it has roots possibly in
other more deeper sources. It's clearly that. It's …
Chip interjecting: Yes, my struggle is
with sexism, racism. Any kind of dichotomy of 'us and them'.
I feel impassioned about the issue but I almost never get
involved at that level because something doesn't ring true.
Something doesn't seem solvable at the level that we're
looking at it. Because it seems to be that we are looking at
it at a static level. And I think on a static level it's
incompatible. So I don't get excited about, sort of, a
political, cultural, social change because I don't trust it.
I don't trust that it's anything other than a change from
one static pattern to another static pattern. So I don't
know what to do with that. Except to go back to the Dynamic
End of Tape Three. The next session
continues on the fourth tape (transcribed
Hawley, Jack ‘Reawakening the Spirit in Work: The Power of
Dharmic Management’. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San
Patrick McGoohan plays a man
who resigns from a top secret position and is abducted from
his London home. He finds himself in a beautiful village
where everything is bright and cheerful - the people, their
clothes, the buildings, the flowers. But despite this rosy
exterior, the village serves a sinister purpose. People are
forcibly brought there in order to have their valuable
knowledge protected or extracted. Village residents are
assigned a number - the Prisoner is Number Six. Chief
interrogator and administrator is Number Two, but he isn't
the boss - an unseen Number One is the boss.
is not tolerated in the Village, and most episodes feature a
new Number Two, though some are privileged to return for a
second chance to break Number Six and discover why he
Prisoner struggles to keep this information from his captors
and to find out which side runs the Village and where it is.
He strives to discover the identity of Number One, and above
all, to escape.
(Six of One Society:
(7) Moynihan, Daniel Patrick, the sociologist who published "The
Negro Family: The Case for National Action"
Moynihan Report in March 1965.
It focused on the deep roots of Black poverty in America and
concluded that the relative absence of Black nuclear families would greatly hinder further progress
toward their economic and political equality with Whites.
The Preface of Moynihan's report is pasted below:
Preface to the Moynihan Report (1965):
Negro Family: The Case For National Action"
of Policy Planning and Research
United States Department of Labor
hundred years ago, in 1765, nine assembled colonies
first joined together to demand freedom from arbitrary
the first century we struggled to hold together the
first continental union of democracy in the history of
man. One hundred years ago, in 1865, following a
terrible test of blood and fire, the compact of union
was finally sealed.
a second century we labored to establish a unity of
purpose and interest among the many groups which make up
the American community.
struggle has often brought pain and violence. It is not
of the Union Message of President Lyndon B. Johnson,
January 4, 1965.
The United States is approaching a new
crisis in race relations. In the decade that began with
the school desegregation decision of the Supreme Court,
and ended with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, the demand of Negro Americans for full recognition
of their civil rights was finally met.
effort, no matter how savage and brutal, of some State
and local governments to thwart the exercise of those
rights is doomed. The nation will not put up with it --
least of all the Negroes. The present moment will pass.
In the meantime, a new period is beginning.
this new period the expectations of the Negro Americans
will go beyond civil rights. Being Americans, they will
now expect that in the near future equal opportunities
for them as a group will produce roughly equal results,
as compared with other groups. This is not going to
happen. Nor will it happen for generations to come
unless a new and special effort is made.
are two reasons. First, the racist virus in the American
blood stream still afflicts us: Negroes will encounter
serious personal prejudice for at least another
generation. Second, three centuries of sometimes
unimaginable mistreatment have taken their toll on the
Negro people. The harsh fact is that as a group, at the
present time, in terms of ability to win out in the
competitions of American life, they are not equal to
most of those groups with which they will be competing.
Individually, Negro Americans reach the highest peaks of
achievement. But collectively, in the spectrum of
American ethnic and religious and regional groups, where
some get plenty and some get none, where some send
eighty percent of their children to college and others
pull them out of school at the 8th grade, Negroes are
among the weakest.
The most difficult fact for white Americans to
understand is that in these terms the circumstances of
the Negro American community in recent years has
probably been getting worse, not better.
of dollars of income, standards of living, and years of
education deceive. The gap between the Negro and most
other groups in American society is widening.
The fundamental problem, in which this is most clearly
the case, is that of family structure. The evidence --
not final, but powerfully persuasive -- is that the
Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling. A
middle-class group has managed to save itself, but for
vast numbers of the unskilled, poorly educated city
working class the fabric of conventional social
relationships has all but disintegrated. There are
indications that the situation may have been arrested in
the past few years, but the general post-war trend is
unmistakable. So long as this situation persists, the
cycle of poverty and disadvantage will continue to
thesis of this paper is that these events, in
combination, confront the nation with a new kind of
problem. Measures that have worked in the past, or would
work for most groups in the present, will not work here.
A national effort is required that will give a unity of
purpose to the many activities of the Federal government
in this area, directed to a new kind of national goal:
the establishment of a stable Negro family structure.
would be a new departure for Federal policy. And a
difficult one. But it almost certainly offers the only
possibility of resolving in our time what is, after all,
the nation's oldest, and most intransigent, and now its
most dangerous social problem. What Gunnar Myrdal said
in An American Dilemma remains true today: "America
is free to chose whether the Negro shall remain her
liability or become her opportunity."
Andre Broersen with minor amendments by Dr Anthony McWatt,
For more details about Chip Baggett's humanistic work and the
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of Quality: A New Paradigm”
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