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An Introduction to
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Pirsig Annotations on Copleston

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Sneddon Thesis - Part Two

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Quality and Inspirationality (Part 2)

by John L. McConnell

originally written in 1990

updated July 2012 with a commentary by Paul Turner 

 

 

Disclaimer  

 

          When I first wrote this essay in 1990, Robert Pirsig was just in the process of completing LILA, in which he presented his beautiful and insightful Metaphysics of Quality.  It is an elegantly conceived and brilliantly executed structural re-architecture of rationality that doesn’t just reintegrate values into rationality; it re-engineers rationality and rebuilds it on values from the ground up.  Rationality based on the Metaphysics of Quality is nothing but Quality throughout.  

          While this was going on I was developing what I would call an “operational upgrade” to rationality.  It was simply a different, more open way of thinking that was characterized by its recognition and application of Quality.  

          I know my approach has value because it’s the way I have been thinking and working and living for most of my life.  I wrote about it because I thought it contributed to Pirsig’s original aspiration of developing an expanded rationality with Good reintegrated into it.  When I read LILA and the Metaphysics of Quality, I felt that I was in total harmony with Pirsig’s thoughts and attitudes.  

          Now as I attempt to update this essay and make it consistent with the Metaphysics of Quality (MOQ), I’m finding that I can’t conform to it completely.  A number of my ideas and descriptions don’t quite fit with the MOQ as much as I would like.  Nevertheless, I’m going to forge ahead boldly, not presuming to tell the truth, but at least to tell my truth and hope that I can subsequently find a way reconcile with MOQ.  So please just go with me on this and see how it unfolds.  Then let’s work out the bugs.  

          I don’t think Pirsig ever intended anything in the MOQ to be dogmatic, and everything he wrote and said makes me believe that he welcomes contributions from anyone who shares his vision of wanting to find better ways to think and to live.  He seems to be a large-minded, generous, and compassionate person, and I ask his indulgence in my plodding and groping thought processes and his help in developing this line of thought into something good and helpful.

 

Introduction

 

          Part 1 of this essay was an introduction to Robert Pirsig’s seminal philosophical work, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  In Part 1, I reviewed the highlights of that book and the philosophy of Quality Pirsig developed in it.  Pirsig’s message resonated deeply with me because I shared with him the feelings of dissatisfaction with the materialistic objectivity of modern science and the consequent mechanistic paradigms that permeated contemporary society.  I found that both Pirsig and I had been independently engaged in a quest for the root of the austere sterility of our modern intellectual ideals.  

          Pirsig’s discovery that the source of the problem was the structure of rationality itself, in the form in which we inherited it from Greek philosophy, was pure gold to me!  His proposed solution was to expand rationality to reincorporate values and to restore Quality to its rightful place at the pinnacle of our system of thought.  I recognized the rightness of his insight it once.  It affirmed and supported my own similar conclusion.  With that endorsement I took the Philosophy of Quality and ran with it.  I set about discovering how to enhance and expand rationality accordingly.  

          Meanwhile, Pirsig had not just left the matter there.  He continued to think, read, analyze, and contemplate the power of what he had discovered.  The idea of a re-structured rationality began to take shape in his thinking. With his keen insight and laser-like analytical skill, he realized that where rationality needed to be repaired was in its fundamental architecture--its metaphysics.  Pirsig’s subsequent book, LILA, is the story of Pirsig’s development of the Metaphysics of Quality.  In the MOQ, as it is called in philosophical circles, Pirsig accomplished a brilliantly satisfying and usable structural re-architecture of rationality.  He has rebuilt it from scratch, and it works magnificently!  

          But since my line of thought preceded the publication of LILA, some of the words that I used don’t mean the same thing they do in the MOQ.  But to change everything so its usage is consistent with MOQ would make it awkward to read. So let’s just agree that in this essay “intellect” means “the biological hardware-firmware that makes thinking possible”, and “object” is used in a common sense way to mean something outside my body that I can handle and use.  It doesn’t mean “Object” in a subject object metaphysical sense.

 

Two Ways of Knowing

 

          My own search for the "worm" at the core of scientific thought was guided early on to the works of the French philosopher Henri Bergson.  In Creative Evolution Bergson shows how the biological attribute known as instinct may be understood as a kind of "knowledge" an organism may have of its world.  Evolution has developed for the instinctive creature an organic 'tool', an instrument formed as a part of the creature's body and precisely adapted to a highly specific and limited range of tasks or objects in the creature's environment.  Along with the instrument, Nature[1] has developed in the organism a precise knowledge of its use - precise, but limited in scope.  The mode of knowledge an instinctive creature has of its object is, as it were, knowledge from within; the instinctive creature may perceive little, if any, distinction between its own body and the object upon which it acts.  Thus, instinctive knowledge remains unconscious, because it is realized in action, with no interval for reflection.  Hence, the instinctive mode of life gives rise to a creature with immediate and intimate knowledge of a limited range of objects and precise adaptation to a limited range of tasks through a set of organic tools.  But life could never achieve consciousness through such a line of development; it was an evolutionary dead-end.

 

          In order to advance, Nature sacrificed precision and intimacy of knowledge to develop an instrument vastly more powerful and versatile than instinct.  This new instrument was intellect[2].  It was the prerequisite for the evolution of consciousness.  As a biological trait, intellect enables its creature to form inorganic tools, artificial instruments, imprecise, but adaptable to any purpose.  The mode of knowledge inherent in intellect is not knowledge of objects but knowledge of forms.  Intellect knows objects only from the 'outside", but it has intimate (internal) knowledge of a compact set of constructs, such as space, time, cause - effect, quantity, etc.  It seems to have hard-wired into its architecture the capacity for forming, understanding, and utilizing these concepts.

 

          In his own journey, Pirsig encountered the writings of Immanuel Kant, the 19th century German philosopher.  Kant challenged one of the fundamental (and hidden) assumptions of rational thought - the belief that all we know, and all we can know, of the world is derived from sensory experience.  Kant argued that knowledge may begin from, or correspond to, experience, but does not arise from it.  We are born, he affirms, with certain a priori knowledge, such as the concepts I have listed in the foregoing paragraph.  These "hard-wired" concepts constitute our "control program".  They give form and continuity and interpretation to our experience.  At any moment our sensory inputs are actually screened and processed through our inherited and accumulated a priori framework.  Consequently, what we know determines what we experience at least as much as what we experience determines what we know. 

 

         Of these elemental forms, perhaps the most fundamental is distinction, the knowledge and perception of differences.  Herein resides our biological inclination to analyze, to draw distinctions.  This is the "primitive" which is fundamental to self-awareness, the first distinction we make, the distinction between self and not-self, and thence the subject-object distinction which permeates all of rational thought as we know it.  It is the origin of the metaphysics of "ontological dualism" which has dominated Western scientific thought from its beginning.[3]

 

          Now we may conclude that, just as the instinct is "asleep" to the things it knows intimately, so is the intellect "awake" to the external objects of which it has detached knowledge by virtue of the "form" of distinction, but "asleep" to those things of which it has intimate and immediate knowledge, namely its own a priori forms.

 

          So the Platonists didn't really "invent" the dualism which Pirsig recognized and ascribed to them.  It was built into the human thinking apparatus from the beginning.  But in earlier stages the intellect was tempered and moderated by the nonrational faculties of mind--the emotions, feelings, non-sensory and extrasensory perceptions, and by a biological remnant of instinct, which Bergson calls the intuition.  What the Platonists did was to help to cut the intellect loose from its mental moorings and set it adrift unregulated and unconstrained.

 

          Once this was done, all the consequences of the rise of rationality follow logically.  The natural inclination of the intellect, indeed its strongest instinct, is to view "out there" as detached from, and independent of, "in here".  Such an intellect would naturally come to suppose that its highest function is to be a value-free and passive observer of external phenomena, and to order those phenomena into patterns of regularity which permit their prediction and manipulation.  Science is thus the logical and inevitable outcome of unbridled intellect.

 

          The intellect, "asleep" to its own internal forms and regarding everything else as external, assumes sole command of the vessel.  With the nonrational modes of perception and knowledge deliberately and willfully suppressed, one can understand how in a few short centuries a David Hume could reach the conclusion that all we know is derived from "sense data".  We can also see why it would take someone of the stature of Kant to reveal to us once more the obvious:  that we come into the world already "pre-programmed" with a nucleus of knowledge, and through experience we accumulate a store of a priori concepts; that this inherent and accumulated store of "firmware" determines not only how we interpret sensory data but in fact determines what sensations we perceive at all!

 

          The problem with intellect, unfortunately, is that once it takes charge, it wants to run the whole show; in fact, it readily persuades itself that it is the whole show!  All the Platonists did was to affirm and formalize that notion by establishing dialectic as the method for determining truth.  They enthroned ambitious Intellect as Absolute Monarch of Mind, and once enthroned, it eagerly became a tyrant.  In the words of the American philosopher John Dewey:  "The instrumentality becomes the Master and works fatally...  not because it has a will, but because Man has not."

 

          In defense of intellect, and Nature's choice of it as the pathway for its successful advance, intellect may be said to have necessarily diverged from instinct in order to develop awareness.  By analogy, it may be argued that rational thought had to divest itself of the intuitive response, and thereby of its immediate perception of Quality, in order to free the mind from emotions and passions so that it could advance.  Reason had deliberately to divest itself of the affective domain in order to acquire understanding of nature.  But intellect in our own generation has evolved to its logical conclusion.  The instrument developed by Nature for the construction of artificial tools has culminated in the construction of artificial intelligence!  Just as instinct proved itself finally unsuitable for the advance of evolution of Life, so intellect has also shown itself as an evolutionary dead-end.  The main stream of ongoing evolution lies in another direction.


Enhanced Rationality

 

          If we accept the premise that rationality as we know it developed historically from a deliberate and collective abdication of control of thought to the intellect, then it follows that the repair of the resulting defect in rationality lies in willfully seizing back the initiative and repossessing what we relinquished.  That's a tall order!  We are, in effect, requiring our intellect to "cut its own switch".  We are asking nothing less than that it assist us to derive a concept of it that brings its rule to an end.  We are confronted with the formidable bootstrapping operation of compelling rationality to perform radical reconstructive surgery upon itself.

 

          Let us begin by assuming an altered perspective that places us conceptually outside of that which we wish to construct.  Then having constructed it, we may by a deliberate act of intuition enter into it and gain the advantage over intellect.

 

          First, we need a new name for this new form of rationality, a name that characterizes it metaphorically and evokes the imagery that will draw us into it.  That name is inspirationality[4].  To inspire means "to breathe into".  Connotations of the root it shares with the word "spirit" also pervade the word.  Hence, the word inspirationality suggests the idea of rationality with the breath of life breathed into it; rationality infused with spirit.

 

          The "Prime Directive" of inspirationality is that it must reintegrate "the Good" with "the True", thus closing the wound that was wrought by Platonic thought.  The contemporary philosopher Nelson Murdoch[5] has observed, "The true isn't True unless it's Good."  He would also doubtless affirm the corollary:  "The good can't be Good unless it's True."  Good has two connotations, both of which are valid in this context - ethical Good, or Right, and aesthetic Good, or Beauty.  The pivotal term Right can also mean True! The very ambiguity of these terms should suggest their fundamental inseparability.  Hence, an act that is "wrong" or "ugly" cannot be the product of an inspirational thought process.  To put it another way (and to derive another term), success gained by a "dyspirational" process cannot succeed.

 

          The reintegration of True with Good is mediated through the cultivation of the experience of Quality.  We find ourselves somewhat retarded in that skill only because we have neglected, or deliberately suppressed, the faculty of mind by which Quality is perceived and experienced.

 

          Bergson believed that intuition in the intelligent creature is a dim, vanishing remnant of the instinctive mode.  Nonetheless, he ascribed to it great importance and power.  In Introduction to Metaphysics he constantly referred to it as the instrument by which we may enter willfully into a primary empathetic knowledge of anything, a knowledge, as it were, from within a thing.  He had perhaps, therefore, come to share my belief that we possess a submerged faculty of mind - call it "intuition", "right-brain", "subconscious", "Superconscious", or whatever you will - that is the beginning of something, not the vanishing of it.  We carry within us the "seedling" of a more advanced form of knowledge than either instinct or intellect.  Evolution never goes backward.  We cannot seek to return to "the good old days" before the intellect emerged.  We must see where the advancing front of life and consciousness are going and willfully align our hearts and minds with it.

 

          In The Phenomenon of Man Father Teilhard de Chardin traces the history of cosmic evolution and discerns throughout it a directedness akin to Bergson's elan vitale.  Teilhard introduces the term "radial energy", in contrast to the "tangential energy" recognized in conventional physics, to describe the driving force that has impelled the evolution of the Universe through successive stages of increasing complexity, issuing at last in a conscious being, capable of knowing its origins and its destiny.  He derives also the necessity of an Omega Point, the "supremely attractive center" toward which cosmic evolution has been drawn throughout the history of the Universe and toward which it hastens in the conscious creature.

 

          Teilhard's observations and conclusions have provided for me the most satisfying and comprehensive answer to the perennial questions:  "Who are we?  Why are we here?  Where did we come from?  Where are we going?"  In terms of his projections, an advanced form of knowledge must lead us in the direction of enhanced and intensified consciousness.  I suggest the term noesthesis ("mind-feeling") to describe this mental instrument.  In the natural progression of modes of knowledge, instinct is a knowledge of objects, intellect is a knowledge of forms, and noesthesis is a knowledge of being or essence.  It has the intimacy of instinct but the reflective awareness of intellect, with the added discernment of Quality in all its myriad manifestations.  It is the mind form of heightened and intensified consciousness.  It is the "high" for which the drug culture, lost in "dyspirationality", would yearn if they could conceive of it. 

 

          Noesthesis operates in the moment of pre-intellectual awareness which Pirsig identified with the event of Quality.  Recall how Bergson reasoned that instinct suppresses awareness because it is dissipated in the immediacy of action, with no interval for reflection.  Similarly, the noesthetic faculty requires an "interval" (not necessarily chronological) of intimacy that is not devoured in the "immediacy" of thought.  The exercise of the noesthetic faculty is the means of expanding our rationality.  Noesthesis is the mind form for inspirationality.

 

          For me, the best model for the coordinated, noesthetically governed use of intellect in attunement with Quality is the performance of music.  Musical performance, public or private, requires an intellectual knowledge of vocal, physical, and mental techniques and an intimate comprehension of the inner "being" of the music, a form of knowledge that is recognizable but not definable by intellect.

 

          At this point in my original essay I tried to tell how to develop this expanded thought process and use it to think and work and live better.  I failed in that, and Pirsig himself caught me up on it.  I failed because I didn’t know how, and I tried to fake it.  Up to that point I had been telling the truth of my own experience and insights, as guided and inspired by others but owned and assimilated in my own thinking.  But then I tried to make something up, and Pirsig, being a truth-teller, caught me at it.

 

          So now I am looking over my own shoulder and asking how I can explain to other people how they can expand their thinking.  The fact is that I still don’t know.  But the reason I don’t know is that I’ve never known how not to think this way!  My life has been a continuous development of Inspirational thinking!  The fact that I can’t define it makes me think it might be right.  It feels “Dynamic”.  I can’t tell you how to get there, but I can give you a sense of how it feels and how it works.  It seems to start with some kind of re-orientation to a more open and less structured way of thinking.  Maybe it’s sort of a matter of “arriving without travelling.”  In Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull the spiritual master, Chiang, says to Jonathan, “To fly as fast as thought, to anywhere that is, you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived.”  Chiang also gives a superb example of inspirational thought:  “It’s strange. The gulls who scorn perfection [Quality] for the sake of travel [rationality] go nowhere, slowly. Those who put aside travel [rationality] for the sake of perfection [Quality] go anywhere, instantly.”

           

          Stay tuned for Part 3, in which I will demonstrate Inspirational thinking in the way I work personally and in the way I would like to see a corporation working.

 

Bibliography

Bach, Richard (1970)  Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Scribner

Bergson, Henri (1944)  Creative Evolution, Random House

Bergson, Henri (1961)  Introduction to Metaphysics, Philosophical Library

Pirsig, Robert M. (1974)  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Bantam Books

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre (1959)  The Phenomenon of Man, Harper & Row



[1] Bergson’s writing is highly metaphorical.  He uses the term “Nature” in a somewhat anthropomorphic sense in his rhetorical style.  He doesn’t necessarily mean to imply any “intentionality” on the part of Nature.  But as you read further through Creative Evolution, you get the idea that maybe he wasn’t being as figurative as we might suppose.

[2] In Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality, “Intellect” is considered the highest level of cosmic evolution.  Pirsig uses it to mean “rational thought” in the most general sense.  In this essay I am using the term “Intellect”, as Bergson does, to mean the biological attribute of a brain with a certain level of complexity and its attendant function of abstract thought.

[3] By the time he wrote LILA Pirsig no longer accepted the premise of any kind of a priori knowledge present at birth.  He believes that all the built-in forms that I listed are acquired as an infant develops in a social context.  He seems to have a lot of supporting research evidence for this belief.  He’s probably right, but I need to discuss this with him or a member of his group.  I can’t see how there isn’t something biological that makes possible the development of abstract thought instead of instinct.

[4]  This term was "given" to me; I did not invent it.  If I had, I would have spelled it with two r's - "inspirrationality" - to make it less ambiguous.  But upon reflection, it is clear that the ambiguity was deliberate.  It is intended to convey a concept that is not clearly defined and has numerous connotations of the related terms "inspiration" and "inspirational".  So I have recorded it as it was given, and in all subsequent essays of this series I shall use it as given.  Its spelling and the attendant confusion with "inspiration" shall stand, as directed.

[5]  Nelson Murdoch is a personal friend.  He is unknown, unpublished, and has no credentials.  That should not diminish the validity of his insight.

 

 

Commentary

 

 

As John wrote this essay before LILA, Pirsig's second book, was published, Paul Turner has kindly written an  "MOQ" commentary to give the reader an idea of the elements in this essay that would change if re-written taking account of the ideas found in LILA.  Paul's comments are coloured red.

 

Two Ways of Knowing

 

My own search for the "worm" at the core of scientific thought was guided early on to the works of the French philosopher Henri Bergson. In Creative Evolution Bergson shows how the biological attribute known as instinct may be understood as a kind of "knowledge" an organism may have of its world. Evolution has developed for the instinctive creature an organic 'tool', an instrument formed as a part of the creature's body and precisely adapted to a highly specific and limited range of tasks or objects in the creature's environment. I think “instinct” in the MOQ is a static biological response to Dynamic Quality, not to objects, and does not constitute knowledge in the usual social-intellectual sense of the word. Along with the instrument, Nature has developed in the organism a precise knowledge of its use - precise, but limited in scope. The "mode" of knowledge an instinctive creature has of its object is, as it were, a knowledge from within; the instinctive creature may perceive little, if any, distinction between its own body and the object upon which it acts. Thus, instinctive knowledge remains unconscious, because it is realized in action, with no interval for reflection. Hence, the instinctive mode of life gives rise to a creature with immediate and intimate knowledge of a limited range of inorganic-biological patterns objects and precise adaptation to a limited range of tasks through a set of organic tools. But life could never achieve consciousness through such a line of development; it was an evolutionary dead-end.

 

In order to advance, Nature sacrificed precision and intimacy of knowledge to develop an instrument vastly more powerful and versatile than instinct. This new instrument was intellect. From the MOQ perspective, this skips the evolution of the social level and thus leaves the mind-matter relationship unresolved. It was the prerequisite for the evolution of consciousness. Hmm, tricky word. First of all, if we are talking about consciousness in the static sense, it is inorganic, biological and social patterns which are a prerequisite to consciousness. If we are talking about something like Dynamic awareness/Zen enlightenment then intellect is not only not a prerequisite, but it is a barrier. As a biological trait, intellect enables its creature to form inorganic tools, artificial instruments, imprecise, but adaptable to any purpose. I’ve always thought of early examples of tool-making as primarily a socially learned pattern although intellect has provided the basis for more advanced technology. The mode of knowledge inherent in intellect is not a knowledge of objects but a knowledge of form. Intellect knows objects only from the 'outside", but it has intimate (internal) knowledge of a compact set of constructs, such as space, time, cause - effect, quantity, etc. Both form and objects are intellectual constructs, I’m not sure there is much difference between the knowledge of the two. 

 

In his own journey, Pirsig encountered the writings of Immanuel Kant, the 19th century German philosopher. Kant challenged one of the fundamental (and hidden) assumptions of rational thought - the belief that all we know, and all we can know, of the world is derived from (sensory) experience. Kant argued that knowledge may begin from, or correspond to, experience, but does not arise from it. In the MOQ, all knowledge arises from experience. We are born, he affirms, with certain a priori knowledge, such as the concepts I have listed in the foregoing paragraph. These "hardwired" concepts also come from experience constitute our "control program". They give static form and continuity and interpretation to our experience. At any moment our sensory inputs are actually screened and processed through our inherited and accumulated static a priori framework. Consequently, what we know determines what we experience at least as much as what we experience determines what we know.

 

Of these elemental forms, perhaps the most fundamental is distinction, the knowledge and perception of differences. Herein resides our biological inclination to analyze, to draw distinctions. This inclination is social-intellectual in the MOQ. This is the "primitive" which is fundamental to self-awareness, the first distinction we make, the distinction between self and not-self, and thence the subject-object distinction whichpermeates all of rational thought as we know it. It is the origin of the metaphysic of "ontological dualism" which has dominated Western scientific thought from its beginning. I’m not sure self/not-self neatly corresponds to subject/object because the terms are so ambiguous but in any case this is not “primitive” in the MOQ. Discrimination of values into patterns is “primitive” and the patterns of self and not-self come later as a result.

 

Now we may conclude that, just as the instinct is "asleep" to the things it knows intimately, so is the intellect "awake" to the external objects of which it has detached knowledge by virtue of the "form" of distinction, but "asleep" to those things of which it has intimate and immediate knowledge, namely its own a priori forms.

 

So the Platonists didn't really "invent" the dualism which Pirsig recognized and ascribed to them. It was built into the human thinking apparatus from the beginning. I think this is wrong, in the MOQ there is no “thinking apparatus” outside of cultural patterns and the dualisms seemed to have developed in Greek culture. But in earlier stages the intellect was tempered and moderated by the non-rational faculties of mind, the emotions, feelings, non-sensory and extrasensory perceptions, and by a biological remnant of instinct, the intuition. What the Platonists did was to help to cut the intellect loose from its mental moorings and set it adrift unregulated and unconstrained. This translates roughly as “the Platonists tried to cut intellect loose from the social and biological patterns of value on which it depends.”

 

Once this was done, all the consequences of the rise of rationality follow logically. The natural inclination of the intellect, indeed its strongest instinct, is to view "out there" as detached from, and independent of, "in here". Such an intellect would naturally come to suppose that its highest function is to be a biological & social value-free and passive observer of external inorganic phenomena, and to order those phenomena into patterns of regularity which permit their prediction and manipulation. Science is thus the logical and inevitable outcome of unbridled intellect.

 

The intellect, "asleep" to its own internal forms and regarding everything else as external, assumes sole command of the vessel. With the nonrational Dynamic? modes of perception and knowledge deliberately and willfully suppressed, one can understand how in a few short centuries a David Hume could reach the conclusion that all we know is derived from "sense data". The MOQ actually starts with this conclusion but crucially adds that a better name for this sense data is Dynamic Quality and it does not come from pre-existing objects. We can also see why it would take someone of the stature of Kant to reveal to us once more the obvious: that we come into the world already "pre-programmed" with a nucleus of knowledge Here we are getting back into SOM, and through experience we accumulate a store of a priori concepts; Yet here we are moving back towards the MOQ, the a priori concepts are social-intellectual patterns that emerge from the experience of Dynamic Quality and the static patterns of culture within which we are raised that this inherent and accumulated store of static patterns "firmware" determines not only how we interpret sensory data but in fact determines what sensations we perceive at all!

 

The problem with intellect, unfortunately, is that once it takes charge, it wants to run the whole show; in fact, it readily persuades itself that it is the whole show! All the Platonists did was to affirm and formalize that notion. They enthroned ambitious Intellect as Absolute Monarch of Mind, and once enthroned, it eagerly became a tyrant. In the words of the American philosopher John Dewey: "The instrumentality becomes the Master and works fatally... not because it has a will, but because Man has not."

 

In defense of intellect, and Nature's choice of it as the pathway for its successful advance, intellect may be said to have necessarily diverged from social patterns instinct in order to increase quality develop awareness. By analogy, it may be argued that rational thought had to divest itself of the intuitive response, and thereby of its immediate perception of Quality, in order to free the mind from emotions and passions so that it could advance. Here John is touching on the fact that intellect is both good and evil in the MOQ sense but is missing out the social level. Reason had deliberately to divest itself of the biological and social patterns affective domain in order to follow intellectual quality and acquire an intellectual understanding of nature. But intellect in our own generation has evolved to its logical conclusion. The instrument developedby Life for the construction of artificial tools has culminated in the construction of artificial intelligence! Just as instinct proved itself finally unsuitable for the advance of evolution of Life, so intellect has also shown itself as an evolutionary dead-end. I think this goes too far, when intellect gets too static it suppresses Dynamic growth but it has repeatedly shown itself to be capable of revolutions greater than that seen at the social level. The MOQ is a prime example. The main stream of ongoing evolution lies in another direction. 

 

Enhanced Rationality

 

If we accept the premise that rationality as we know it developed historically from a deliberate and collective abdication of control of thought to the intellect, then it follows that the repair of the resulting defect inrationality lies in willfully seizing back the initiative and repossessing what we relinquished. That's a tall order! We are, in effect, requiring our intellect to "cut its own switch". We are asking nothing less than that it assist us to derive a concept of it that brings its rule to an end. We are confronted with the formidable bootstrapping operation of compelling rationality to perform radical reconstructive surgery upon itself. This is called the MOQ :)

 

Let us begin by assuming an altered perspective that places us conceptually outside of that which we wish to construct. Then having constructed it, we may by a deliberate act of intuition enter into it and gain the advantage over intellect.

 

First, we need a new name for this new form of rationality, a name that characterizes it metaphorically and evokes the imagery that will draw us into it. That name is inspirationality7. To inspire means "to breathe into". Connotations of the root it shares with the word "spirit" also pervade the word. Hence, the word inspirationality suggests the idea of rationality with the breath of life breathed into it; rationality infused with spirit.

 

The "Prime Directive" of inspirationality is that it must reintegrate "the Good" with "the True", thus closing the wound that was wrought by Platonic thought. The contemporary philosopher Nelson Murdoch has observed, "The true isn't True unless it's Good." He would also doubtless affirm the corollary: "The good can't be Good unless it's True." Good has two connotations!!!, both of which are valid inthis context - ethical Good, or Right, and aesthetic Good, or Beauty. The pivotal term Right can also mean True! The very ambiguity of these terms should suggest their fundamental inseparability. Hence, an act that is "wrong" or" ugly" cannot be the product of an inspirational thought process. To put it another way (and to derive another term), success gained by a "dyspirational" process cannot succeed.

 

The reintegration of True with Good is mediated through the cultivation of the experience of Quality. We find ourselves somewhat retarded in that skill only because we have neglected, or deliberately suppressed, the faculty of mind by which Quality is perceived and experienced.

 

Bergson believed that intuition in the intelligent creature is a dim, vanishing remnant of the instinctive mode. Depending on what is meant by “intuition” this may be a confusion between biological and Dynamic Quality. Nonetheless, he ascribed to it great importance and power. In Introduction to Metaphysics he constantly referred to it as the instrument by which we may enter wilfully into a primary empathetic knowledge of anything, a knowledge, as it were, from within a thing. He had perhaps, therefore, come to share my belief that we possess a submerged faculty of mind - call it "intuition", "right-brain", "subconscious", "Superconscious", or whatever you will - that is the beginning of something, not the vanishing of it. We carry within us the "seedling" of a more advanced form of knowledge than either instinct or intellect. Evolution never goes backward. We cannot seek to return to "the good old days" before the intellect emerged. We must see where the advancing front of life and consciousness are going and willfully align our hearts and minds with it. From an MOQ perspective, John is correctly saying that we need to “follow” the Dynamic Quality from which all static knowledge emerges and not return to biological and social patterns in order to “move beyond” intellect.

 

In The Phenomenon of Man Father Teilhard de Chardin traces the history of cosmic evolution and discerns throughout it a directedness akin to Bergson's elan vitale. Teilhard introduces the term "radial energy", incontrast to the "tangential energy" recognized in conventional physics, to describe the driving force that has impelled the evolution of the Universe through successive stages of increasing complexity, issuing at last in aconscious being, capable of knowing its origins and its destiny. This appears to confuse an inorganic pattern with Dynamic Quality. He derives also the necessity of an Omega Point, the "supremely attractive center" toward which cosmic evolution has been drawn throughout the history of the Universe and toward which it hastens in the conscious creature. Unless Teilhard de Chardin means an “undefined betterness” he seems to be talking about a fixed goal here.   

 

[As Robert Pirsig noted about this paragraph: "Teilhard de Chardin... goes into teleology with his Omega principle.  Dynamic Quality, as I understand it, is neither a principle nor a teleological goal."]

 

Teilhard's observations and conclusions have provided for me the most satisfying and comprehensive answer to the perennial questions: "Who are we? Why are we here? Where did we come from? Where are we going?" In terms of his projections, an advanced form of knowledge must lead us in the direction of enhanced and intensified consciousness. I suggest the term noesthesis ("mind-feeling") to describe this mental instrument. Strictly speaking, all mental instruments are static intellectual patterns in the MOQ but I suspect John means something like Dynamic awareness. In the natural progression of modes of knowledge, instinct is a knowledge of objects, intellect is a knowledge of forms, and noesthesis is a knowledge of being or essence. Dynamic Quality is neither of these things and, in fact, if one follows the Buddhist “description” of Dynamic Quality as emptiness, it points to the fundamental lack of essence or being as the world’s “true nature”. It has the intimacy of instinct but the reflective awareness of intellect, with the added discernment of Quality in all its myriad manifestations. It is the mind form of heightened and intensified consciousness. It is the "high" for which the drug culture, lost in "dyspirationality", would yearn if they could conceive of it.

 

Noesthesis operates in the moment of pre-intellectual awareness which Pirsig identified with the event of Quality. Recall how Bergson reasoned that instinct suppresses consciousness because it is dissipated in the immediacy of action, with no interval for reflection. Similarly, the noesthetic faculty requires an "interval" (not necessarily chronological) of intimacy that is not devoured in the "immediacy" of thought. The exercise of the noesthetic faculty is the means of expanding our rationality. Noesthesis is the mind form for inspirationality.

 

For me, the best model for the coordinated, noesthetically governed use of intellect in attunement with Quality is the performance of music. Musical performance, public or private, requires an intellectual knowledge of vocal, physical, and mental techniques and an intimate comprehension of the inner "being" of the music, a form of knowledge that is recognizable but not definable by intellect. 

 

A couple of final thoughts.  I think some of the confusion between different forms of knowledge/experience in terms of the fully developed MOQ and the role of “mind” in the apprehension of Dynamic Quality would need to be addressed if this was intended to be consistent with the MOQ as presented by Pirsig in LILA.

 

However, in his disclaimer, John tells us that he feels unable to “conform” to the MOQ as presented in LILA.  This raises a further point that I would like to comment on.  I find that some people don't like LILA too much because the MOQ turns out to be something different to what they understood from ZMM.  I also find that some people don't like post-LILA clarifications by Pirsig because the MOQ turns out to be something different to what they understood from LILA. In both cases, anyone is free to take forward what they believed Pirsig was saying and present their own philosophy.  Many people have.  I just think that, to avoid causing its readers any confusion, what they present shouldn't be called the MOQ. I once said in the MD that perhaps we should consider there to be a new philosophic school of valuism with Pirsig's MOQ being one example. John’s valuist philosophy reads like it comes from the heart which is an excellent start for a new contribution.

 

To read Part 1 of this essay, please press on this link.

To read Part 3 of this essay, please press on this link.

 

Also please note that Paul Turner has also written a paper on this website about the Buddhist tetralemma which can be found via the following link: