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All posts for the month September, 2003

Owen Barfield – Note to self – must read some Owen Barfield – for starters …
The Owen Barfield Website
Owen Barfield and C S Lewis [Quote] Most notable of his works are perhaps History in English Words, Poetic Diction, Saving the Appearances, Unancestral Voice, and Worlds Apart. Barfield also wrote a fairy tale, The Silver Trumpet, as well as a book about C.S. Lewis, whom he met and became a life long close friend at Wadham College, Oxford. [Unquote]
The Case for Anthroposophy by Rudolph Steiner with intro from Barfield.

Wild Orchids and Trotsky – readable witty autobiographical essay (blogged earlier)
A Talent for Bricolage – Joshua Knobe’s interview with Rorty
Richard Rorty’s homepage at Stanford – limited site, but comprehensive bibliography
Terry Eagleton on Rorty – DeLong’s review of Illusions of Postmodernism
Google’s directory listing for Rorty
Web Companion to Pragmatism includes interviews with Rorty, Putnam and Quine and more
Quine / Rorty audio interview at The Connection
A conversation with Richard Rorty by Scott Stossel

I digress
John Searle interviewed by Reason Online

Pirsig ZMM Journey Route Map Updated – Thanks to a great deal of information from Henry Gurr I’ve been able to correct and update the ZMM route details as part of a general update of the Pirsig Pages and the biographical timeline.

Henry’s site has many more photographs and location details than I can link to and his site is well worth a visit.
(Is that you in the photograph at Crater Lake Henry ? – link updated)

Now I hope to concentrate on questions relating to Pirsig biographical details. Watch this space.

I’ve taken the frontcover shots of the books I’m reading or have recently read off the side-bar – just too much slow graphical content for the home-page. I must construct a separate bibliography page soon.

Currently I’m still working slowly through F S C Northrop’s The Meeting of East and West – full of good stuff, and I still haven’t finished George Lakoff’s Women, Fire and Dangerous Things, though I think I’ve got the essence out of it – a lot of common ground with Lakoff and Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By, which I did complete.

Just to complicate things I’ve also started Murray Gell-Mann’s The Quark and the Jaguar, brilliant and very wide ranging – that’s a polymath I guess, and Mario Livio’s The Golden Ratio – not noticed any improvement on Walser yet, and also Jack Kerouac’s On The Road – obligatory pre-cursor to Easy Rider and ZMM. Must also investigate Marshall McLuhan and William Gibson soon I guess as well as finding some more accessible Richard Rorty. So much catching up to do.

Science and the Humanities – A plea from Robert M Young, Professor of Psychoanalysis at Sheffield Uni, and co-editor of NIBBS – Human Nature Review. [via David Morey on the MoQ Discuss Forum] In conclusion he writes ….

[Quote] In my opinion psychoanalysis, seen as a discipline in the humanities, is centrally complementary to biological approaches…. Among the most Socratic books I have read are two which I have recently had occasion to re-read and give to my children. Both are about many things, but the first looks centrally at what’s gone wrong with our conceptions of the relations between the technical and the world of values — Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974). The other is not as celebrated. Seventeen years after Robert Pirsig wrote Zen? he wrote Lila: An Enquiry into Morals. The central question in the book is whether a derelict, feckless, mendacious wreck of a woman had value. Throughout the book the issue hangs in the balance. I want to live in an academic world in which it is thought important and even natural that students in science, technology and medicine should read and reflect upon those books. [Unquote]

Like Dr James Willis and Bruce Charlton, he sees enormous significance of Pirsig to every day life of science, technology and medicine. Interesting too are the number of respected, best-selling science writers who pay homage to the superior quality of thinking by those writing in the arts and humanities (Pinker, Dawkins, Gell-Mann, Dupuy, etc.) Will we ever find a way out of the enormous blind-turn taken by the post-Socratic western world ?

Zen Happiness – I linked before to this page by Francis Heylighen at VUB, and noticed it referred to his 1992 paper on Maslow. As you know I’ve been observing parallels between Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and motivations, and Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality (MoQ), and Heylighen’s evolutionary cybernetic philosophy seems to account for both.

Apart from this effective re-statement of my own thesis [Quote] The general problem is that if holism as a reaction to reductionism is understood in a too simple-minded way, then any type of scientific analysis, of precise, formal modelling becomes meaningless. [Unquote] He also says …

Quality [Quote] The state of ultimate well-being as conceived by Japanese Zen Buddhism, “satori”, seems quite similar to “self-actualization”, especially in its emphasis on the openness to experience, the not deficiency-motivated behavior and the transcendence of dualities, and this reinforces my tendency to believe in Maslow’s statement about the culture independence of self-actualizing behavior. [Unquote]

Dynamic Quality [Quote] Self-actualization, on the other hand, may be called a growth need, in the sense that deviations from the previously reached equilibrium state are not reduced, but enhanced, made to grow, in a deviation-amplifying positive feedback loop…. The “goal” of an autonomous system is not a fixed equilibrium, but a dynamic process which continuously reconstructs the system’s identity…. Self-actualization is reached when all needs are fulfilled, in particular the highest need. Because of the positive feedback, self-actualization is not a fixed state, but a process of development which does not end. [Unquote]

On holiday, sailing in Greece.

Met John Flynn and son David. John works for EMIL (ex EEEL) ExxonMobil in New Malden UK. A long term customer of mine at Foster Wheeler, Reading, UK, down at Esso Fawley. He regularly works with Richard Carroll, someone I employed during my 22 years at FW. Small world.

Also met Hillary and Darren from Epsom (both under 30 !). Sylvia may have persuaded Darren to come to Reading FC to see some real football (England v Lichenstein, who ? tonight). A very lovely couple. I got them and others into a conversation about Northrop’s Meeting of East and West, (which I’m reading by the pool when I get the chance), and Pirsig’s ZMM, and all things human and linguistic about what really matters – poiitics, religion, metaphors dead and alive, metonyms, weak and strong homonyms, aphorisms, euphemisms, rhyming slang, etymology, philosophy, the lot.

Oh yeah, and Alan Pardew resigned as manager of Reading FC this very day.

Good reviews from NIBBSMyths We Live By by Mary Midgley [Guardian / John Turney]
Natural-Born Cybogs by Andy Clark [Metpsychology / Neil Levy]
Quest: The essence of humanity by Charles Pasternak [New Scientist / Brian Fagan] [Quote] Even plants have quests – for the sunlight that fuels their growth. Humans, of course, have enhanced searching ability …[Unquote] Or, as Peter Gabriel put it, “The forest fight for sunlight takes root in every tree.” [See dysteleology post earlier]
Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti and Carol Stewart
Nature via Nurture by Philip Gerrans [F2 Network / Matt Ridley]

Some great posts recently from Seb, on semantic web ontologies and on tools to link different feeds and forms of information with a consistent metaphor. Particularly liked …
[Semantic Web Ontologies][W3C Philosophy ?][Streams, Pools, Mountains & Lakes metaphor]

Intrigued by Seb’s eclectic list of “dead” people, which includes Abraham Maslow, as well as Curt Cobain and Bertrand Russell. The Maslow link is a good one. Three related issues here for me ….

(1) Maslow / Pirsig parallel worldviews.
(2) Evolutionary psychological aspect of “ontologies”.
(3) My lack of tools to experiment with these modelling ideas.