Tony Giovia


Thank you for the extensive quote. I haven't read Lila (and may not for a while) so I appreciate this window into Persig's current vision, although based on your quotes I am disappointed by some of his conclusions.

>>>  First are the logical positivists "who say that only the natural sciences can legitimately investigate the nature of reality and that metaphysics is simply a collection of unprovable assertions that are unnecessary to the scientific observation of reality." <<<

The concept of metaphysics exists in and of itself and therefore is a part of reality. His quote (which may accurately reflect the view of logical positivists) assumes ideas do not have an independent physical existence and therefore can be dismissed as ... I don't know what. Even illusions affect the physical brain and therefore must have a physical component.

>>>  "Mystics say thought is not a path to reality; thought can only carry you away from that which comes from pre-thought." <<<

I have given my reasons (many times) in this forum for assuming that thoughts are only labels for the power relationships - contextual relationships - of the waves and physical particles created at the Big Bang. Then 'pre-thought' is not an undefinable reality, but merely a deeper level of one all-encompassing reality. And because there is a flow of information/energy involved, and without proof to the contrary, my first assumption would be that this level that can be accessed by thoughts just as it can access thoughts - that is, it's a two way street or a no way street. And I would keep that assumption until a one way path was shown to be more likely than not.

>>> This kind of mysticism is completely outside the domain of positivistic science, which is why, Pirsig argues, positivists are doomed to misunderstand it and science can never explain it. Precisely because science and mysticism both reject it, Pirsig feels metaphysics is the field to serve as a bridge between them. It stands apart from both poles of the mystic and the empirical. <<<

I think this is an excellent definition of 'very thin ice'. How can metaphysics be a bridge to science if Persig believes science 'can never explain it' ? What is his definition of science?

>>> "Metaphysics applies definition and structure to make sense of abstractions that transcend logic, language and empirical observation," Pirsig notes. <<<

Is he allowed to just say anything? And still get published?

>>> The beauty of metaphysics, in Pirsig's mind, is that it can shed light on conflicing philosophies by describing the _values_ a belief system contains, the context each frame of reference creates for the people who employ it. In that sense, you might say [my thought] metaphysics is an analysis of contexts, where they come from and how they work to create their own reality-sets.... What Pirsig implies, but doesn't state (at least not yet) is that meta-p is the science of relative realities. It takes no position upon which context is more "real" or which is more "true." Taking a leaf from Zen, it merely seeks to describe what "is" for me and for you, which provides a bridge upon which we can meet to compare our points of view. <<<

The concept of a flexible set of perceptions based on recognizable and changeable assumptions (what we have been calling ' filters' in the C threads) is Carlos Castaneda speaking. I hope Mr. Persig credited him.



>>> (Me) my first assumption would be that this level that can be accessed by thoughts just as it can access thoughts - that is, it's a two way street or a no way street <<<

>>> (you) I agree with you there (presuming I understand <g>). It sounds like you and Richard K. both see a fundamental incompatibility between Pirsig's take and quantum physics <<<

First off, my sentence should read 'my first assumption would be that this level can be accessed by thoughts ....'  I put an extra 'that' in there, which is confusing. I will correct the original message .

Second off ( ? ), I wasn't referencing quantum physics, and couldn't convincingly do so even if I wanted to. I was just describing a communications channel where if A can talk to B, then B can talk back to A.

>>> Metthinks you sound a bit entrenched in an empirical logic box <s>. <<<

I am entrenched in the sense that no one has explained to me how I can sense non-empirical (ie non-physical) data. If I can't sense it, how do I know it exists, or that it is actually affecting me? Remember that I cast a wide net and include ideas as empirical data. If it is not an idea, and it is not a sensation, then how do I know it is out there? That is the box I am in.

Put another way, if you use a physical idea filter (as I do) you can visualize the structure of logic as ideas contained within the structure of a larger idea (context). For example, the numbers 2,4, and 6 are included within ' the set of all even numbers' - these numbers are part of the structure of that larger context.

Now try to imagine a non-logical structure, of ideas or anything else. If two ideas are not in some way physically connected, one within the other, or 'bridged' as equals forming the boundaries (or membrane) of a context, then how do you show a relationship among the parts of the whole?

>>> What Pirsig suggests is that metaphysics can be a framework in which all other frameworks can be viewed without having to decide which is more "true." <<<

What Persig is suggesting is that these frameworks ' transcend logic' without explaining what a non-logical framework looks like.


Hi Richard,

>>> I don't think he [Persig] is wrong to ask whether logic is the appropriate degree of abstraction with which to view the world. <<<

Please don't misunderstand me; nobody is paying me to champion logic. Persig is free to question logic, but for me it is patronizing to just throw that out and not put another practical theory into its place. I for one would be very interested in knowing how a non-logical definition would work, or a non-logical structure would stand.  <g>

It all sounds like fodder for Oprah and Springer, or worst of all justification for The Psychic Network (these are American talk shows and telephone ( ! ) psychics).



>>>(Me) If it is not an idea, and it is not a sensation, then how do I know it is out there? That is the box I am in. <<<

>>> (You) I didn't hear anyone say these were not ideas! Metaphysics is all about ideas (and the belief systems around them). <<<

I guess I wasn't being clear, because this is not what I am saying. You mentioned an empirical box, a device wherein anyone in the box considers only physical empirical data as relevant. I see ideas and sensations as physical empirical entities. My quote above therefore means that I allow ideas and sensations into the box, because they are empirical entities. Anything that is not an idea or sensation I do not let into the box, because if I can't sense it then it is not empirical and I have no way of accessing it with my physical mind.

Until someone explains how non-empirical data can be accessed by a physical mind I will leave a window unblinded but keep the box's door locked. <g>



>>> The aim of reductionist logic is to narrow things down by repeatedly asking: is this valid or not? "Not-valid" is then tossed away, determined irrelevant or denied. The aim of what I will call "associative logic" for want of a better term is the opposite: not to divide, but to integrate. The question then becomes not "is this valid?" but is it "significant"? If the answer is no, then the next question is "_why_ isn't it significant in this context?" And if the answer is yes, then the question is "_what_ makes it significant?" <<<

Two points:

1) When I think of reductionism, I think of simplification via exact definitions of component parts, and a clear explanation of the relationships among the component parts. When I think of validity, I think of reproducibility based on the physical inclusion of one component within the structure of another component.

2) Despite your protestations, it seems to me you are using ' valid' and 'not valid' judgments to determine 'significance'. You are just using a transition context (is this what Persig is calling metaphysics?) to store various strength associations. And without a contextual geometry in place I don't want to be the person who defines 'significant', or who sets the rules determining what is significant and what is not.

>>>  It is not without logic by any means, and in that sense it's probably unfair to call it "non-logical." But most people who say "non-logical" or "abstract" in this way only mean it is not reductionist or weigh-and-measure empiricism. <<<

Be that as it may, he did say 'transcend logic'.

>>> "... It is an outgrowth of empiricism, the idea that all knowledge must come from experience, and is suspicious of any thought, even a scientific statement, that is incapable of being reduced to direct observation." <<<

Why does he call it 'suspicious'? If it can't be observed (and I include a logical explanation as a valid observation), you are asking for faith (ie, accepting someone else's assumptions as absolute), not proof. Call it what it is.

>>>. Metaphysics creates that "membrane" you mentioned, the surrounding fabric that surrounds the system and defines its edges. By looking at it as a system, you can view it both from the inside out and the outside in. <<<

Actually, Susan, this **is** pretty close to what I mean by membrane. It suggests a permeability that 'boundary' or 'parameter' do not. There is an all-time eternal classic enduring novella (I forget the name) which uses architecture to illustrate this point. <g>

>>> Whether the stove caused the man to curse or something else did is secondary to the fact that he was caused to curse. That is the "primary empirical reality" from which "such things as stoves and oaths and selves are later intellectually constructed." The reason that the study of values "seems so wooly-headed to empiricists is that empiricists keep trying to assign them to subjects or objects." That doesn't work, Pirsig says, because "values don't belong to either group. They are a separate category of their own.... Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality ... takes this separate category of value, or what he calls Quality, and subsumes both subjects and objects inside it, allowing one to contrast them both from a place in between or outside the subject/object relationship. <<<

I may have to break down and read this book because I can't expect you to define everything he says if he doesn't do it himself. At this point all I can say (with the caveat that I still don't understand his exact definition of ' values') is that maybe he is echoing (or we are echoing him) what we have been saying for a while in this forum - take an empirical observation, add math/logic ops, and if the ops are reproducible you have validity. But since he is ' transcending logic' it may not be fair to him to assign math/logic ops to values. I do know that I prefer the phrase ' transitional context' to ' values' because it seems less perjorative and more of a functional definition.