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.
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?
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
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
read Scruton's 'review', please press on the image below:
see more about the 'Metaphysics of Quality', please press on the following links:
On The Road with Robert Pirsig DVD
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
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is the MOQ DVD
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which contains the "On The Road with Robert
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The Boxset is for sale at $69/£40
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Critical Analysis of Robert Pirsig’s
by Dr Anthony
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
To purchase the PDF copy of the PhD by credit
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(c) 2014 Dr Anthony McWatt.