Wow, it’s full of holes.

Thanks to David Morey over at MoQ-Discuss for picking up these links to papers mentioning Pirsig’s work. (I’m guessing partly prompted by the observations from Sam and Ant about the Ram-Prasad “Great Divide” article decrying the dearth of links between Eastern and Western philosophy – lets’ not overlook Pirsig and Northrop.)

A Hubert Dreyfus paper on Albert Borgmann’s Heideggerian thesis on the “affirmation of technology” which makes only a passing reference to Pirsig, but seems to include significant further parallels between Borgmann, Heidegger and Pirsig. Also includes confirmation of the idea that “technology” is the irresistible driver of most progressive change.

Jeremiah Lewis “reconciliation of opposites“, bridging eastern and western philosophies drawing significantly on Pirsig, as well as William Barrett and Fritjof Capra (Nothing against Capra, but I really must redress the Capra / Talbot balance).

John J Emerson’s “Pirsig and Buddhism” response to the Baggini / Pirsig interview inlcuding references to Magliola (Derrida & Nagarjuna), Frederick Streng, Stephen Toulmin and Michel Meyer. (Just starting reading Magliola’s “Derrida on the Mend” and Jay Garfield’s translation of Nagarjuna’s “Mulamadhyamakakarika – The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way”). Emerson includes some pretty succinct summaries of the essence of buddhist thought in that there can be no exhaustive metaphysical ontology, best illustrated in a few of his own words …

The anti-ontological view does not deny the reality of things or of the world, but doubts the value of the attempted verbalization and classification of reality represented by ontology. To a Buddhist, all ontologies probably have some good in them, but they all miss and misrepresent some things, so the choice of ontologies is a choice of evils.

Any system of ontology is a set of answers to a certain set of questions, but ontological writing does not express the originary questions, but instead states its answers in absolute form. Were the questions made explicit, readers would understand that a different set of questions would produce a different ontology.

What Pirsig seems to have produced is a philosophy of qualities without substances. This seems tolerably close to the Buddhist or the Taoist view …

Emerson’s “idiocentrism” appears somewhat indigestible, but his observations are incisive.

Whilst I’m in the mode of grabbing links for later digestion …
… I also today read …

Ant McWatt’s earlier paper on “The MoQ and Time” – not sure the analysis of the scientific view of time is exhaustive, but it does illustrate that any dynamic model of reality has some important assumptions about time and causality at base – seriously weird concepts when you research beyond common sense – a recurring issue of mine. (And the point, like most of the links in this post – pragmatically, the culturally determined common sense metaphors are probably as good as it gets – we probably shouldn’t wait around for a temporal plug to close up our metaphysical holes. As Dave Bowman finally notices “Wow, it’s full of holes.” Get used to it. Wishful thinking BTW – Bowman actually says stars, not holes.)

Paul Turner’s “Notes on the Tetralemma” – excellent short piece which again re-inforces the “integration of opposites” and the fact that no exhaustive ontology can exist, but that is readily accepted by buddhism, and need not represent a problem to a pragmatic framework for reality. As Emerson says above, “When Rorty says that pragmatism, rather than offering a new theory of truth, offers reasons why we do not need a theory of truth, he approaches a Buddhist view.” (Note also comparing Lewis above with Mary Parker Follett, that “integration” of opposites incorporating difference is a better metaphor than “reconciliation”, implying compromise and elimination of difference.) [Post Note – As indicated in his comment, Paul has another related article entitled “alterity” on his Twelve Links blog.]

5 thoughts on “Wow, it’s full of holes.”

  1. Ian,

    This is just in reference to your concluding parenthesis:

    “Note also comparing Lewis above with Mary Parker Follett, that “integration” of opposites incorporating difference is a better metaphor than “reconciliation”, implying compromise and elimination of difference.”

    Management might do well to integrate or reconcile opposites, but using the same metaphor with respect to metaphysical opposites is a different story. Which is why in the logic of contradictory identity, the point is that the opposites are never reconciled or integrated. Instead, to use Magliola’s phrase, there is an interminable sliding, and by always failing to be integrated, reality happens.

    – Scott

  2. Hi Scott – I think I agree with you, I could see your “contradictory identity” in what I was reading and writing. We’re really just debating the linguistic metaphor of my use / Follet’s use of “integrated”.

    Perhaps “accomodated”, “included” maybe ? – the point being they are NOT “eliminated” – the opposites exist within reality (in fact they are the cause / basis of it).

    BTW you miss Folletts’s point – that’s what she means too. Don’t be dismissive of (quality) management 🙂 This is pragmatism at work, not some ivory tower philosophy.

  3. Hi Paul. Thanks.

    Having just started reading Jay Garfields Nagarjuna, I’ve got the “Twelve Links” allusion. The penny has dropped.

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