Pirsig, Whitehead, Sneddon & McWatt – Credit Where Credit’s Due

It’s no secret that my philosophical – metaphysical – journey was helped along early on by the writing of Robert Pirsig [(1974) “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and (1991) “Lila“], although I was late to that party, at the turn of the millennium.

I’m pretty catholic when it comes to sources of meta-physical thought and their syntheses  into a comprehensible & workable real-world-view, but I do still maintain that Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality is as good a framework as any I’ve come across. Almost all other syntheses of my own I relate to the MoQ even if, like any other philosophical theory, there is plenty of room for disagreement in interpretation and application, even amongst those that take the MoQ seriously. (I still maintain my Pirsig Pages.)

The path of getting Pirsig into the academic canon has been (and continues to be) a rocky one. Plenty of academic philosophers have written comparative papers, short-courses and even masters theses. So far as I am aware, there is still however only one full PhD dedicated to the work of Pirsig, and no full-time / tenured academic staff and/or courses that major on Pirsig.

A Critical Analysis of
Robert Pirsig’s
Metaphysics of Quality

Anthony Michael McWatt

(PhD thesis submitted in accordance with the requirements
of the University of Liverpool, November 2004.)

I don’t major on Pirsig particularly these days, although my intuitions of MoQ-as-Framework persist. This 20 year blogging project attests to the range of philosophy, metaphysics and fundamental physics I’ve researched since first reading Pirsig, and I’d not re-read McWatt’s thesis until this past week.

Anyone following my thought journey will have noticed that Whitehead figures prominently in the last year or two. Well, there are over 30 references to Whitehead in McWatt’s thesis that must have gone right over my head when I first read it. (I was prejudiced against Whitehead’s mathematical collaborations with Russell until I eventually caught up with his metaphysical thinking.) McWatt has references to “Process & Reality” (PnR) and to “Adventures of Ideas” (AoI) as well as secondary references, including

Andrew (AG) Sneddon (1995). MA Thesis
A Process Analysis of Quality:
A. N. Whitehead & R. Pirsig on Existence & Value

Having been knocked-out by PnR – I discover I already had an unread copy of AoI. Perversly, according to most evidence, I’m finding AoI harder going than PnR.

Anyway, I clearly need to do a round-up of my Pirsig<>Whitehead synthesis at some point. Credit to McWatt for  his earlier work here.

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