Ian’s MoQ Picture

This is my working model / mental image of Pirsig’s MoQ. It’s limited by being in 2D with evolutionary time in one direction up the page – this limits the ability to show real-time / concurrent interactions between “levels” that are separate on the 2D page, or recursive cycles between the patterns or spiralling out of the page.


The focus of this view is what “distinguishes” the different “levels” of patterns, whether they are strictly levels or not. ie the little arrows are an initial attempt to point out what changes as you cross each particular interface. Also, since pre-conceptual (radical empirical) awareness is / has always been available as long as awareness itself, a main objective is also to show that “intellect” need not be constrained by SOMist concepts, hence three distinct higher “levels” actually interface with the living / organic level in this variant.

It’s possible to turn the picture back to the customary pyramid of four layers, if we treat SOMist Intellect or SOMism as just another social pattern – imposed by society’s prevailing “scientistic” memeplex – and to see real intellect as MoQish intellect. In effect that would be a picture – Pirsig’s picture – of the end-game, but that risks losing a view of some of the true evolutionary mechanisms through interaction between the different levels of patterns that get us there.

If you get hung up on exactly what is the definition of “intellect” as opposed to high quality mental behaviour (whatever you call it, however you conceptualise it) then this becomes contentious. Part of the definitional problem is a recursion, our “suspension in language” and our inability to talk about intellect without using intellect as a concept to describe concepts. Not surprising that any definition of this kind is limited.

If your aim is to do rather than talk, this ceases to be a problem. Of course there are actually similar definitional problems with the boundaries between all the layers. However, we are much more accustomed to taking common sense physics for granted whilst we debate in the rarefied layers of intellect those things we value highly like “freedom, truth and beauty” – so these definitions tend to be less contentious. It is nevertheless still possible to draw and redraw any of the boundaries with alternate definitions of what we mean by physical or living or whatever. It’s always a matter of what matters to our perceived purposes. So for example elsewhere, I have an “informational” view of the physical world – the most basic things that arise from the continuum are “significant differences” – but this is not important to the overall picture.

Important also not to see the image as a Venn (set) diagram. Each “level” includes those below it, values are added at each step. There is no sense in which you can “pull up the ladder” once you’ve made it. We all depend on the static latches that anchor us to our foundations, and provide conservative forces as a balance against freedom to re/de-evolve either from scratch or degenerately. Remember the Irishman, if you want to get there, you might not want to start from here.

[Note that Tuukka has a good attempt at a multi-dimensional view where each level of patterns can interface with any other – imagine a sphere comprising Möbius strips, rather than a flat pyramid – which may help.]

3 thoughts on “Ian’s MoQ Picture”

  1. Yeah, I only posted it when John asked his question. I’ve had various versions knocking around for several years.

Leave a Reply