Other papers on this website:

Key selections from the 1993 AHP transcript

The 1993 AHP transcript-Part 1

The 1993 AHP Transcript-Part 2

The 1993 AHP Transcript-Part 3

The 1993 AHP Transcript-Part 4

David Granger's Aesthetics Paper

PhD Commentary

An Open Letter to Sam Harris

Art & the MOQ by Robert Pirsig

An Introduction to
 Robert Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality

Khoo Hock Aun's Paper

An MOQ Summary by Robert Pirsig

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

The MOQ & Time

The MOQ & Education

Pirsig & Pragmatism

Chai at the Lazy Lounge



















A Noh-thing Response to Roger Scruton's 'review' of 


The Age of Nothing

Dr Anthony McWatt


   February 2014  




I've now had a close look at The Age of Nothing 'review' by Roger Scruton. I'd like to especially thank David Buchanan for signposting this (via his conversation with some contributors at the Partially Examined Life podcast & blog website) as it shows - if nothing else - that some mainstream academic philosophers such as Scruton are still living the failed Platonic dream.  As an MOQ philosopher it's depressing to see that even more trees and computer hard drive space will be wasted on basically a misleading paradigm at best and an awful lot of clichéd nonsense; rather than to - quote Scruton - an intriguing and challenging book.  The only thing I will find challenging about Peter Watson's book - judging by Scruton's review - is how to light it without a match if I run out of firewood and lighter fuel.

For argument's sake, let's take one point about Scruton's article (though I could make several).  In the review and the comments afterwards (by one of the Partially Examined Life people), Nietzsche is mentioned and particularly his text "Beyond Good & Evil".  I read the latter carefully while writing-up my PhD and basically this title could have been the sub-title for the great anti-dichotomy book of OUR times, "Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert M. Pirsig.

Anyway, what does Nietzsche say at one point in Chapter 1 of "Beyond" when he is criticising Western philosophers (just like... Watson & Scruton!)?:

'Indeed, what is it that forces us in general to the supposition that there is an essential opposition of "true" and "false"? Is it not enough to suppose degrees of seemingness, and as it were lighter and darker shades and tones of semblance - different valeurs, as the painters say? Why might not the world WHICH CONCERNS US - be a fiction? And to anyone who suggested: "But to a fiction belongs an originator?" - might it not be bluntly replied: WHY? May not this "belong" also belong to the fiction? Is it not at length permitted to be a little ironical towards the subject, just as towards the predicate and object? Might not the philosopher elevate himself above faith in grammar? All respect to governesses, but is it not time that philosophy should renounce governess-faith?'

i.e. Nietzsche is criticising the very subject-object/good-evil/pick your pet dichotomy/ foundations that Scruton and Watson still use for their little pet ideas of the world borrowed - largely uncritically - from Plato.

When I read Scruton say the following: "Watson has a lot of time for Nietzsche, while acknowledging that his influence is due more to his gifts as a writer than his capacity for argument" well, I nearly ripped-up the article there and then.  What a load of bollix!  Nietzsche is ten times the philosopher that Scruton and, by the sound of it, his drinking buddy, Peter Watson will ever be.  At least Watson recognises that Nietzsche is worth spending some serious time studying. (It's times like these I wish Jesus WOULD come back… "Save me Lord, please give me the patience to deal with these cretens.  They do not know what they do. I am wondering which one to strangle first. It's so hard to choose though Lord.  Can you help me?  Can you help me if you can?  I need somebody... H-E-L-P!!!").

Anyway, while we're here, let's TRY to put this "God is dead" issue to rest.  There is no empirical evidence that this thing which some people call "God" had a determinate personality; the latter is an invention of some white man somewhere off his head on something exotic or he hasn't eaten for 3423 days or some other dubious exercise like that.  Now, because white men usually control things on this little planet of ours, other people listen to them.  Bad mistake people!  "Think for Yourself" as the great prophet George O' Harrison once sang!

And, by the way, this issue doesn't seem to worry many East Asian philosophies such as Buddhism which is about as old as Platonism.  This does not mean there is no source for the ongoing Dynamic "creative play" that we see every day in the universe from the moment we wake up or that it isn't essentially mysterious but it can be known through immediate (or direct) experience, whether that's seeing a smile of a young child or beautiful scenery or the (mostly dead) stars at night.  This is what Robert Pirsig terms "Dynamic Quality" (in his second book, "LILA: An Inquiry into Morals") but there are as many names for "it" (as Herrigel said) as you want.  Plato thought he could capture the latter in a written definition that he called a Form.  Well, for all his abilities, he should have realised that this is not just possible for the human intellect. It would have to be - wait for it - omnipotent and omniscient - to do so!

In the Western world (and this is one of the issues that Nietzsche was bringing to attention) we just have to grow up intellectually.  It's time to leave the parental home of the parent we never had.  Don't believe me? Ask your friendly Buddhist or Taoist philosopher the next time you see him or her.  And please don't waste any more trees or computer hard drive space, Peter and Roger.  Please think of the environment now before putting the proverbial "pen to paper"!

Finally, now an obvious criticism of my "Noh" reply to Mr Scruton is that Nietzsche, Pirsig, Harrison and myself are all white men telling other people their opinion about things!  What I'd like any reader of the above response to do is to follow through on what I've just said.  In other words, does it "ring true" with your own readings of Plato, Nietzsche, Pirsig, Scruton etc.?  Please don't  just BLINDLY agree with what I've said; think about it!


To read Scruton's 'review', please press on the image below:



To see more about the 'Metaphysics of Quality', please press on the following links:






On The Road with Robert Pirsig DVD


The winner of the 2009 Wirral Film Festival - Documentary Section! 


'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!' (Prof. Ron DiSanto, April 3rd 2009)


This DVD is for sale at $29.99 (or the euro or sterling equivalent)






This is the MOQ DVD Boxset ('the one with the jazzy cover!' - Bob) which contains the "On The Road with Robert Pirsig" film mentioned above plus "The MOQ at Oxford" &  the "On The Road with John Sutherland" DVDs.


The Boxset is for sale at $69/£40 for all regions.  Postage & packing free! 





A Critical Analysis of Robert Pirsig’s 

Metaphysics of Quality 


by Dr Anthony McWatt



The PDF version of the first ever PhD examining the MOQ remains available together with an  appendix containing correspondence from Robert Pirsig that specifically relates to the philosophical issues it examines.


To purchase the PDF copy of the PhD by credit card or PayPal at £5 sterling (or the euro or US dollar equivalent) press the PayPal symbol below:









Please note!  This article and the images on this page (including the painting at the top of this article and the 'digitally restored' version of Michelangelo's Sistene Chapel painting), 

(c) 2014 Dr Anthony McWatt.