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UK hardback edition


Pirsig PhD Introduction


MOQ Textbook Introduction


MOQ papers on this website:

Evolution, Time & Order Paper

The 1993 AHP transcript-Part One

Selections from the 1993 AHP transcript

PhD Commentary

An Open Letter to Sam Harris

Art & the MOQ by Robert Pirsig

An Introduction to
 Robert Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality

An MOQ Summary by Robert Pirsig

Khoo Hock Aun's Paper

David Buchanan's Art & Morality Paper

Pirsig Annotations on Copleston

Gavin Gee-Clough's "Brisbane Winter" Paper 

 Henry Gurr's MOQ presentation


Sneddon Thesis

- Part One


Sneddon Thesis - Part Two

David Buchanan's 2006 Paper

Observer Interview

Notes on the tetralemma

The MOQ & Education

Pirsig & Pragmatism

Chai at the Lazy Lounge


MOQ Conference Papers:

Robert Pirsig's Welcome Speech

Dr McWatt's Handout

David Buchanan's Paper

Henry Gurr's Handout

Ian Glendinning's Paper

Mati Palm-Leis's Paper

Gavin Gee-Clough's Paper

Khoo Hock Aun's Paper




Old news 2005-2011



April 2011 News

The recent interview with Sam Harris caught the eye of contributor Andre Broersen.  So much so, Andre has written an "open letter" answering the same questions asked of Harris but from an MOQ perspective.  Please click on the above image to read Andre's answers.  Congratulations are also in order for David Buchanan and his recent degree success.  Deservedly so knowing the hard work he put into his college work and his in-depth knowledge of Pirsig's work. 






March 2011 News

Firstly, please note the new MOQ Boxset (pictured) which contains the "On The Road with Robert Pirsig", "The MOQ at Oxford" and  the "On The Road with John Sutherland" DVDs together with a bonus CD of various PDF documents including the Pirsig PhD and MOQ Textbook.  This will soon be joined by a transcript of David Buchanan's Oxford lecture found on the  "MOQ at Oxford" DVD together with a new commentary on the Pirsig PhD and a PDF of some of my pre-email correspondence with Robert Pirsig from the 1990s.  Watch this space! 



October 2010 News

Earlier this year, Mary Friend, one of the viewers of the "MOQ at Oxford" DVD went through Robert Pirsig's July 2009 film and transcribed it.  Unfortunately, without Pirsig's original notes at hand, Mary's transcription had some errors in it.  These have now been corrected and  the new 'definitive' transcript published at the following link:




David Buchanan,Gavin Gee-Clough, Prof. Henry Gurr, John Sutherland & Dr Anthony McWatt on the day of John's interview in September 2006.




August 2010 News




Hot on the heels of the well acclaimed "MOQ at Oxford DVD", I'm pleased to announce "On The Road with John Sutherland" the final DVD in the MOQ DVD Series.  This primarily features an interview with John Sutherland talking about how he got involved with Robert Pirsig and the piece of writing which was to become "Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".  Robert Pirsig on the interview, earlier last month:  "I think the John Sutherland interview, which we just looked at, will be a valuable part of the record. He has some opinions about me and 'Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' that will help fill things in."

In addition to the interview with John Sutherland, there is also a full length interview with Professor Ron DiSanto, the co-author of the "Guidebook to Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"; the definitive guide to Pirsig's first book. In his DVD interview, Professor DiSanto concentrates on the MOQ though there are also some interesting personal asides such as his meetings with Robert Pirsig and John Sutherland in the mid-1980s.   The DVD is available at the Shop:  





May 2010 News





David Buchanan taking the same pose of David Brill's 1974 seminal photograph of Robert Pirsig..

Firstly, it's worth noting "From the perspective of infinity" which is a new blog by Dr Ariella Popple inspired by Robert Pirsig's work.  She is seeking, with the assistance of the blog's readers, to discover what is meant by the good life.   "I would like to figure out what really matters. For me, that means figuring out how to live, or what is good."  Here are Robert Pirsig's thoughts on what Dr Popple has written so far::  "Ariella Popple sounds great. She has all that education plus a touch of wildness that one finds in Berkeley and the Bay culture generally. I hope her project works."

Secondly, the "MOQ at Oxford DVD" has now been released.  The 138 minute DVD is a compilation of David Buchanan's lecture and the three films of  Robert Pirsig discussing Art, the Church of Reason and the MOQ created specially for the MOQ Study Day at Oxford University last October.  The DVD is for sale at $25/£16 for all regions. Postage and packing free!


       (payment with dollars)

      (payment by sterling)





“No one travels quite so high as he who knows not where he is going.”  Oliver Cromwell said it.  The MOQ explains it by saying that knowing where you are going is always static.  Real art is not knowing where you are going, but are listening intently to something you don’t understand.  And if your ego doesn’t interfere, this something you don’t understand may guide you to much more than you ever expected.  

Robert Pirsig, October 2009





December 2009 News


The "On The Road with Robert Pirsig" film was screened at the second Wirral International Film Festival last month.  I'm pleased to announce at the latter's Awards Ceremony held on Friday December 3rd, that it won the best documentary award:


That's not bad going for "On The Road's" first outing at a film festival!  Many thanks to Alan and Phil of Vesbim Productions for screening the film and their enthusiasm and time in organising everything for this event.









November 2009 News


For those of you who weren't fortunate enough to attend the successful MOQ Study Day held last month at Oxford University, there will be a DVD made available soon featuring the films of Robert Pirsig compiled specifically for the Study Day together with a film of David Buchanan's lecture.  In the meantime, the "On The Road with Robert Pirsig" and "Arrive Without Travelling" DVDs remain available:


"On The Road with Robert Pirsig" is the second film in the authorized DVD series about Robert Pirsig's life and work. 

It is truly a first class piece of work, deserving of a wide audience, which I hope it receives. Pirsig comes across as a truly enlightened being --- insightful, yet humble, unassuming, down to earth. [He's kept] center focus, as is right. The side-bar comments of others, the scenery, and the judiciously chosen music (at least per my taste) all enhance that focus. Splendid!

Professor Ron DiSanto, April 3rd 2009


(NTSC Version for $25)

(PAL Version for £16)




July 2009 News


I am pleased to announce the forthcoming Study Day at Oxford University on Art and the Metaphysics of Quality!  The details for it can be found below:

Art and the Metaphysics of Quality

Key facts

Location Oxford University, Department of Continuing Education
Address Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford
Dates Day: Saturday October 24th 2009
Time of meeting: 9.30am - 5.00pm
Number of meetings: 1
Subject area(s) History of Art
Fees From £44.00
Application status Applications now closed
Course code O09P105ARJ


Robert Pirsig’s classic examination of Quality in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974) and Lila (1991) has still to make a visible impression on an academic discipline, despite the high regard in which his work is held by many academics. This study day will review his achievement, and test it against the approach to art history advocated by Sir Ernst Gombrich (1909–2001), perhaps the leading art historian of his day.


Programme details

A lecture by David Buchanan:

Common sense and the Western philosophical tradition
both tell us that quality is simply a characteristic of good
things or that it is the subjective impression of one who
perceives those things as good. Pirsig’s Metaphysics of
Quality, however, turns this notion on its head. This
revolution is accomplished on an empirical basis, which
can be explained by way of the Radical Empiricism of
William James.

Two lectures by Patrick Doorly:

Lecture One

Throughout his long and distinguished career, Ernst Gombrich
maintained that there is no such thing as Art (with a capital
A), which is a concept invented by Romantic philosophers.
In its place he advocated a return to the original meaning of
the word as ‘mastery’ or skill, a usage that survives in
everyday speech. This talk compares Gombrich’s ‘mastery’
with Pirsig’s Quality.

Lecture Two

How can Quality be real when its manifestations are so
various, and trying to grasp it is as futile as trying to catch
your own shadow? While the experience of Quality is
immediate and dynamic, Pirsig found that we interpret it
according to patterns left by previous Quality events, which
survive on four discrete levels. These static patterns of
value include the schemata shown by Gombrich to form the
starting point of every artistic undertaking. Indeed the
Metaphysics of Quality resolves many hitherto intractable
problems in contemporary fine art and art history.

A presentation by Dr Anthony McWatt:

Since 2005 Anthony McWatt has commissioned several extended
video recordings of Robert Pirsig discussing his work on
Quality, most of which have yet to be broadcast. He has
compiled some extracts from these tapes especially for this
study day, each of which he will introduce, and allow time
for questions after screening.



Mr David Buchanan

Role: Speaker

is a postgraduate student at the University of Colorado at Denver. He spoke at the Liverpool conference on the Metaphysics of Quality in 2005.

Mr Patrick Doorly

Role: Speaker

was Acting Director of Studies for Art History at the Department for Continuing Education at Oxford University in 2001-02. Since then he has taught part-time in the department while writing his book The Truth about Art. (forthcoming)

Dr Anthony McWatt

Role: Speaker

is the only person in the world with a PhD in the Metaphysics of Quality. In 2005 he organised the conference on the Metaphysics of Quality at the University of Liverpool, with Pirsig in attendance. Dr McWatt is now working on a series of films devoted to Robert Pirsig’s life and work. He also administers the official Robert Pirsig website at

Recommended reading

Robert M Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (1974; London: Vintage, 1999).

Robert M Pirsig, Lila: An Inquiry into Morals (1991; London: Alma Books, 2006).

Ernst Gombrich, The Story of Art (1950; Oxford: Phaidon Press Ltd, 1995).

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Finally, as a bit of fun, don't miss Nick Summerhayes article about motoring acronyms.  The photographs of his Mini are especially not to be missed!




April 2009 News 


Here's further feedback about the "On the Road with Robert Pirsig" film from Professor Ron DiSanto (the co-author of the "Guidebook to Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"):


From: DiSanto, Ronald
Sent: 03 April 2009 13:33:26
To: 'Anthony McWatt'


Thanks a million for "On the Road." It is truly a first class piece of work, deserving of a wide audience, which I hope it receives. Pirsig comes across as a truly enlightened being --- insightful, yet humble, unassuming, down to earth. You keep him center focus, as is right. The side-bar comments of others, the scenery, and the judiciously chosen music (at least per my taste) all enhance that focus. Splendid!

All the Best,

Ron DiSanto


Thanks Ron.  And, continuing with the positive theme, here's some photos from the first public screening of "On the Road" at the Shoebox Gallery in the Roberts Building, Minneapolis which took place on February 27th:



This is the same building where Robert Pirsig wrote much of "Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" in the early seventies.  In addition to the film screening, there were readings related to Pirsig and his work.  Sean Smuda, the gallery art owner relates:


'Over 70 people showed and Robert Pirsig's old friend Eric Storlie sent a book of his reminiscences titled "Nothing on my Mind". Worth a read and a very funny bit with Pirsig in it...  Apparently there will be an article on it in the motorcycle magazine Thunderpress... Thanks again so much! Cheers, Sean Smuda'


Sean has a website which can be found via the following link:


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March 2009 News



I'm pleased to see that the "On the Road" film is receiving very positive feedback.  Here's some examples below:


Date: Thu, 5 Feb 2009 10:27:47 -0500


The video is wonderful. You've done an excellent job. I've painted him on the motorcycle trip, at the 2005 Conference and as a little boy. [Pirsig] totally has my heart. I loved seeing the movies and stills from his growing up years.  And it was superbly put together.



From: Andre Broersen (
Sent: 23 February 2009 20:08:48
To: Anthony McWatt (


I cannot express in words the delight I felt when finding the DVD in my mailbox, the joy I felt watching it and the lasting experience it is giving me.

This is wonderful stuff and again Pirsig is refreshing... I am full of admiration for the man. His basic shyness and awkwardness in social situations are obvious to me but these characteristics are so endearing and disarming from someone who has given the world so much.

I have come across this 'stance' in China very often... this... humility... Even the statement that he didn't really write the book... he was just the medium through which DQ could reveal itself...  A very remarkable man.


From: david buchanan (
Sent: 24 February 2009 23:13:44
To: Anthony McWatt (

I watched "On The Road" yesterday. It was a thrill to see Pirsig telling the story behind the story...  the split-screen thing you did with the Sutherland interview was a real nice touch and the way he and Pirsig talk about each other (as buddies) adds a certain warmth that I didn't expect. Nice editing choice there. 



From: Ian Glendinning (
Sent: 08 March 2009 18:48:55
To: Anthony McWatt (

Really liked this documentary ... already published a review ... hope you like it.  Already had one commenter asking where to get a copy ...


At the rate of improvement from the first to second, my expectations for a third and fourth are running sky-high ;-)



I'm not too sure I can quite maintain this rate of improvement but at least the third MOQ film (which largely features a full length interview with John Sutherland about his perspective on Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) is well into production.  Watch this space!

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On The Road with Robert Pirsig DVD (back view)



December 2008 News

"On The Road with Robert Pirsig" is the second film in the authorized DVD series about Robert Pirsig's life and work. As with "Arrive Without Travelling", this film uses professional quality footage and excerpts from Pirsig's own home movies (going back to the 1930s) though this time the focus is the writing of "Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and the people and places of the original motorcycle road trip described therein.  To purchase a copy of this DVD for $25 (or the sterling equivalent), please press either of the buttons below depending on what format (NTSC or PAL) you require. Postage & packing is free.

(NTSC Version for $25)

(PAL Version for £16)




The limited promotional offer of the signed edition of LILA with the "On The Road with Robert Pirsig" DVD has now ended.



September 2008 News

"80 is wonderful. There's no more work. No more responsibility. No more fear of failure.  People are much nicer to you.  They even celebrate your birthday.  Thank you.  I hope you all live to be 80 too and see for yourself what I mean."  

Robert Pirsig quoted from the new unabridged audio book version of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" (ISBN 978-1-874703-48-8) which comprises eleven CDs and features a specially written introduction by James Landis, the perceptive editor who first gave the book a chance.  To hear an extract from the ZMM audiobook, please click on the picture below:


Another 80th anniversary related item is "Zen and Now: On the Trail of Robert Pirsig and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Mark Richardson who relates his own recent experiences while following the original route travelled by Robert Pirsig in 1968.  Not only does Richardson meet some of the original characters in ZMM such as John Sutherland and Gennie DeWeese, there's plenty of new biographical material to keep the interest of even the most diehard Pirsig fan. 

“Assured and poetic... A sort of Cliff’s Notes version of the dense original, and as much of a biography of Pirsig as Richardson was able to piece together... An enjoyable read... Richardson is quite meticulous in describing the thoughts, sensations, even the superstitions many motorcyclists experience while riding.”

Susan Carpenter of The Los Angeles Times


July 2008 News

MOQ Conference Concluding Thoughts by Khoo Hock Aun

On the fortieth anniversary of the original ZMM road trip this month, I am pleased to finally present a transcript for Khoo Hock Aun's Conference talk which is found at the end of the new "Arrive Without Travelling" DVD.  Khoo's presentation makes the important point that the MOQ could be used in East Asia as an antidote to the global "Westernisation" of its intellectual heritage.  I would therefore like to thank David Harding for making a word for word transcript from the video footage and Khoo for then rewriting this "literal" transcript to improve how it scans as a written piece.


Thanks also to Chris Eichenberger for alerting me to a small typo error in the MOQ summary which has now been corrected.

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June 2008 News

New paper by David Buchanan

David Buchanan's "Fun with Blasphemy" lecture made a considerable impact at the 2005 MOQ Conference.  Likewise, it has proved a highlight with viewers of the new "Arrive Without Travelling" DVD. I'm therefore very pleased to present THE RELATION OF ART AND MORALITY IN JOHN DEWEY'S "ART & CIVILIZATION" which is a new academic paper by David.  The paper is largely concerned with John Dewey's statement that "Art is more moral than moralities" using Pirsig's MOQ and the work of Martin Heidegger.


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January 2008 News

New for 2008, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original motorcycle road trip that Robert Pirsig, his son Chris and his friends, the Sutherlands, undertook across America, an authorized DVD series about the MOQ and Robert Pirsig's life will be released during this year.  To see the promo of the series, please press on the following link:









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2007 News

New paper by Gavin Gee-Clough

Another classic piece of prose from Mr Gee-Clough about having a home, the social Giant, the situationists and magic mushrooms right here, right now!


Update on Henry Gurr's page

I am pleased to announce a web version of Professor Henry Gurr's presentation at the 2005 MOQ Conference on the sights and scenes still to be found on the original 1968 "Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" route in addition to the handout that was given out then.


Andrew Sneddon's MA Thesis - Parts One & Two

Andrew Sneddon submitted an excellent comparison between the MOQ and Whitehead's process philosophy as his M.A. thesis.  Read the introduction and the first half of the thesis here.  This half has been proof read again recently and corrected while Part Two has finally been formatted for the internet.  It can be found here.  Many thanks to Dan Glover for scanning the hardcopy of Andrew's thesis and Ted Cole for the illustration found at the top of Part Two.


New paper by David Buchanan

David Buchanan has been contributing posts on MOQ Discuss of a consistent high quality for a number of years now.  However, it is only recently that David has turned some of his thoughts into fully developed academic papers.  I'm therefore very pleased to present one of the first such papers here which argues that the neo-pragmatist Richard Rorty implicitly retains an SOM metaphysics by his overlooking of radical empiricism.


2006 News

New Pirsig Interview with the Observer

In connection with the UK re-publication of LILA recently, Robert Pirsig gave a very good wide ranging interview with Tim Adams of the London Observer which was published on Sunday November 19th.  For those who missed this edition of the Observer, an on-line version of the article can be found at:,,1951537,00.html

While the full interview can be found via the following link:


The new edition of LILA

Alma Books are republishing LILA in the UK (see the picture of the new edition to the left).  It is often forgotten that LILA was a 1992 Pulitzer fiction finalist despite its reputation as just being a rather depressing romantic novel filled with "intellectual digressions". Even without being published in the UK for a number of years, Pirsig's second text has still sold nearly 800,000 copies (not exactly a failure for a philosophy book - compared to other "best sellers" in the area which rarely reach sales of over 100,000 copies).

Alma is an independent publisher with an appropriate reputation for producing high quality books. Their manifesto emphasizes that "alma," Spanish for "soul," is an apt name "for a company that regards a book as an aesthetic artefact rather than as a mass-produced commodity." Alessandro Gallenzi, who founded Alma, underlines that a small publisher can focus properly on every step of production so this new UK edition of LILA should be an improvement not only on the Random House paperback (the only edition of LILA previously available) but even on the 1991 Bantam Press hardback.  Possibly, LILA was ahead of its time in 1991 but in this age where we increasingly need to develop a more Dynamic inclusive culture, maybe its time has finally come. 


New book about Robert Pirsig and John Dewey

In connection with the UK re-publication of LILA recently, Robert Pirsig gave his first face-to-face broadsheet interview for quite a few years (or should that even be decades?) with John Freeman of the London Times.  This was published on Saturday August 5th.  For those who missed this edition of the Times, an on-line version of the article ("In the company of Zen") can be found at:,,923-2297735_1,00.html

In the Times article, reference is made to a new book relating the work of John Dewey and Robert Pirsig by David A. Granger titled "John Dewey, Robert Pirsig, and the Art of Living".  For a preview of chapter 7 of Granger's book, please follow this link:

August 2005 News

New name: new website! Hopefully you all like the new site design, which as well as helping clarity should give easier access to all the information contained herein, including the recent MOQ Conference. If you have any comments, please let me know!

Anthony McWatt

e-mail : anthonymcwatt{a}

Paul Turner has written a brief guide to the tetralemma (linked here) and continues to add to his new philosophy blog  at which is providing some valuable insights into the MOQ and East Asian philosophy. 



Finally, many, many  thanks to Michael Brant at Conference Recording Services for his assistance in the preparation of selections from Robert Pirsig's interview with 'Chip' Baggett at the 1993 AHP Conference scattered throughout the website.  The complete discussion "The Metaphysics of Quality: A New Paradigm" between Robert Pirsig & Leland 'Chip' Baggett at the 1993 AHP Conference can be purchased at the following website:



  A splendid (philosophical) time is guaranteed for all!


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