Pirsig Interviewed by Baggini

[Note – Local copies of linked articles re-instated.]

Julian Baggini, editor of TPM – “The Philosopher Magazine” and goto philosopher of British media, has interviewed Robert Pirsig about his Metaphysics of Quality (MoQ), via e-mail rather than face-to-face, and placed the entire transcript [local copy] as well as his own article “Zen and the Art of Dialogue” on-line [local copy].

[Post Note : Pre-2010 TPM pages have gone offline. TPM Copyrights acknowledged. As noted in the comment below – the exchange says rather more about Baggini trying to conduct the Pirsig  interview by email – resulting in a “standoff” – than it does about the MoQ or philosophy in general.]

[Post Note : Also full disclosure, I’ve gotten to know and become a “fan” of Julian Baggini’s work since this original encounter. See Baggini on Psybertron.]

In his neutral role as journalist interviewer, it’s not clear whether Baggini had any prior knowledge of Pirsig’s ideas, but clearly Bob’s penchant for avoiding comparative philosophology, between his own work and that of other philosophers past or present, meant Baggini had a frustrating experience getting Bob to elucidate. I guess that’s why Bob chose to present his work in the form of his two novels, and avoid any direct involvement in conventional philosophy since. Bob is never going to win friends and influence people in mainstream philosophy, and the old dog will probably not be learning any new tricks at his stage of life.

This article is mentioned by Pirsig in the interview.

A thread of thoughts has developed on MoQ-Discuss.
And a good post from Matt Kundert here, and another one here.


[A 2021 footnote: A disdain for philosophology is something Pirsig shared with Wittgenstein. He famously sought a special kind of originality with a belief in transcendent fundamentals, that the idea of critically comparing one’s own work with that of another mere human was anathema. Quite unlike his friend Ramsey, another merely human genius.]

7 thoughts on “Pirsig Interviewed by Baggini”

  1. Fascinating, thanks for linking it (I wouldn’t have got it from MD). Matt’s comments are astute, as always. I must confess to agreeing more with Baggini than Pirsig as things went on, although not completely. I’ll ponder it a bit further, and write something more substantial later in the week.


  2. A great interview–it didn’t “bog down”. The point of the interview was to inform us about Robert Pirsig, not to be a primer about MOQ.

  3. Hi Craig,

    I think the point of the article published says more about Bob and Julian than it does the MoQ, but I don’t think that was really Julian’s intention when he agreed to do the interview itself.

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