The MOQ Shop


Other MOQ Conference Papers:

Dr McWatt's Handout

Henry Gurr's Handout

Ian Glendinning's Paper

David Buchanan's Paper

Mati Palm-Leis's Paper

Gavin Gee-Clough's Paper

Khoo Hock Aun's Paper


Other papers on this website:

An Introduction to
 Robert Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality

An MOQ Summary by Robert Pirsig

Art & the MOQ by Robert Pirsig

Pirsig Annotations on Copleston

Inspirationality Essay-Part 1

Inspirationality Essay-Part 2

Inspirationality Essay-Part 3

Selections from the 1993 AHP transcript by Paul Turner 

The 1993 AHP Transcript-Part 1

The 1993 AHP Transcript-Part 2

The 1993 AHP Transcript-Part 3

The 1993 AHP Transcript-Part 4

Evolution, Time & Order Paper

PhD Commentary

An Open Letter to Sam Harris

David Buchanan's Oxford Lecture

David Buchanan's 2006 Paper

David Buchanan's Art & Morality Paper

Pirsig & Pragmatism by David Buchanan

Gavin Gee-Clough's "Brisbane Winter" Paper 


Sneddon Thesis

- Part One


Sneddon Thesis - Part Two

David Granger's Aesthetics Paper

The Observer Interview

Notes on the tetralemma

The MOQ & Time

The MOQ & Education

Chai at the Lazy Lounge




Conference opening statement

by Robert Pirsig

It has been nearly half a century since the ideas in the Metaphysics of Quality first appeared to me in Bozeman, Montana. That is a very long time. Yet this is the first academic conference on the subject I have ever attended, and for all I know, the first one ever held. This long delay in academic interest has a number of reasons that are worth thinking about.

The first reason, I think, is the title of the book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” which seems almost calculated to invite academic disrespect. One hundred and twenty one publishers turned it down, setting a Guinness World Record for editorial rejection. The paperback publishers themselves classified it as “New Age,” which translates as beads and incense and drugs and free love and the sort of low-class uninformed speculation called “pop philosophy.” It is to the credit of just one famous literary critic, the Cambridge professor, George Steiner, that my first book got off the ground at all.

The second reason for the delay in academic recognition has been myself. For many years now I have avoided publicity of any kind after discovering that this publicity seemed to be going away from what I was writing about. Though what I was writing about was camouflaged as the biography of a madman, underneath that camouflage was a serious attempt to describe a newer and better way of looking philosophically at the world. Some saw what I was saying, some did not. I have always been grateful for those who have seen it and especially those who are here today. What has been most dismaying in the past was the discovery that among those who did not see it were the very people who should have been first to take an interest, that is, philosophic scholars whose duty is not just to preserve past views of the world but to carefully examine new ones.

Over the years my response to this neglect has been the same as the response that carried me through the mental hospital, a kind of Socratic internal voice that kept saying, “Don’t worry. Stay calm. Time is on your side.” Time has indeed been on the side of the Metaphysics of Quality since it was first set down and the best evidence of that is that here we are today in Liverpool.

I would like to say a word about England. As many of you know, this is the country where I learned to read and write and acquire a love of language that has shaped my life. In addition to the English word “quality” which I think most would agree I have really run into the ground, there is another word, a uniquely English word, that I have not talked about at all, That is the word “fair.” I’ve read that there are at least 16 different meanings of the word, fair, but that the word itself has never been successfully translated into a foreign language. Yet it is a word that runs through the deepest roots of the English culture, and is the reason, I think, for why we are here today. England has certainly seen enough evil and unfairness in its long history, but from my outsider’s perspective it has seemed to me that in the end, when all accounts are settled, it is this sense of fairness that has been the prime mover of the evolution of England, and which governs the attitudes of English people today to an extent they may not see as easily as outsiders do. One of the early things I noticed about Anthony McWatt’s writing is that he cannot condemn anything without stopping and making sure that he is being fair. At times I have wanted to say to him, “Why don’t you stop watering down your criticisms with all this fairness and just damn the opposition all to hell as they so properly deserve?” But he never does, and I think this trait will serve him well over the years to come.

In addition to Anthony McWatt’s fairness, there is the fairness of a person we all know as “Horse,” without whose website on the “Metaphysics of Quality”, this meeting could never have taken place. There is the fairness of this philosophy department at the University of Liverpool which is the first in the world to admit a Ph.D. thesis on the Metaphysics of Quality. There is the fairness of those members of the faculty who, though they have shown no agreement with the MOQ, have helped it through. In particular, I would like to thank Professor Stephen Clark, who has come through to me as a philosopher whose fairness has done more than that of any other single person to guide Anthony’s thesis through to its successful conclusion.

The Metaphysics of Quality has a long way to go toward complete academic and social acceptance, and, at 76, I’m a little sad that I won’t be able to see all the progress in the years ahead. But I’m confident now that the ideas are in good hands and I can relax a little and calm down and feel that my efforts of a lifetime will make a positive difference for this world.




"Arrive Without Travelling" DVD


This was the first ever DVD to feature Robert Pirsig on film.  Using professional quality footage and excerpts from Pirsig's own home movies, here you will find him in conversation with students of his work and in more informal moments during his visit to Liverpool in 2005.  It is for sale at $29.99 (or the euro or sterling equivalent).