*Note from the Author: If you finish the essay and can still breathe or think straight, please e-mail me at email@example.com and let me know what you think. If you passed out at the end, like I did while writing it, I apologize and you can write me, too.
Matthew P. Kundert
Philosophologology: An Inquiry into the Study of the Love of Wisdom
One of my favorite words for a while after reading Lila was “philosophology.” Etymologically, it captured its prey perfectly: “the study of the love of wisdom.” As a beginning philosophy student whose favorite philosopher was someone I would never study in a class, it was an important invective. As I matured, however, I began to use the word less, particularly as I moved into the field of education. And then, as I read and absorbed more and more of pragmatism and Richard Rorty's philosophy, I had to come to terms with what Pirsig meant. It looked more and more as though Pirsig would call Rorty a philosophologist, while retaining the title philosopher for himself. But, because of my general liking of both Rorty and Pirsig, and because both philosophers refer to themselves as taking on the pragmatist mantle, what did that really mean?1
I was reflecting on the term philosophology and its uses when I hit upon an interesting theme: populist rhetoric. Pirsig styles himself a rhetorician in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZMM), and an able one at that. What struck me is the type of insulation and defense of his philosophy that Pirsig is preparing for himself in the opening of Chapter 26 of Lila. The first three pages are part of a recurring theme of distrust of the academic establishment that drowns out the other theme in this early part, a theme that recurs just as much: the synthesis of other thinkers and texts.
The strategy of populism is to create a rhetorical community of “plain people,” among whom a large majority of people would include themselves, appeal and speak for them on their behalf, and rail against the elites who are trying to subjugate and oppress the community of regular people you are speaking on behalf of.2 Pirsig's target is the academic, ivory-tower elites and Pirsig, in appealing to those who distrust the mild-mannered eggheads, will find no end of allies. For Pirsigians, pointing out that this is a rhetorical strategy is no big deal. For we already follow Pirsig in his claim that it is rhetoric all the way down.3 However, we should still be wary of certain strategies and their ability to sometimes turn the contrast up on a picture, painting black and white what is more properly multi-colored.
The question should be, is this a good strategy in this case? The creation of rhetorical communities is unavoidable, but we should be careful about the types of communities we create. Pirsig's strategy unfortunately resembles the old Marxist tactic of identifying whoever disagrees with them as “bourgeois,” as being under the spell of “ideology.” At the bottom of the Marxist's strategy was an untenable distinction between “science” and “ideology.” Analogously, at the bottom of Pirsig's rhetorical community is a contrast between philosophology and philosophy that is at best muddy and misdirected and at worst untenable. The Pirsigian, using this distinction, is given free reign over labeling others as either not thinking creatively enough for themselves, i.e. being under the spell of the academic elites who have given our hero Pirsig the short shrift, or not sticking to Pirsig's message as relayed by his writings, i.e. being under the spell of the academic elites who have given our hero Pirsig the short shrift.
I will take two directions in the course of my investigation of Pirsig's distinction between philosophy and philosophology. The first direction will be to probe the outer edges of the distinction, gradually moving inward until we find how Pirsig's notion of philosophology needs to hang together to get the required force he's granted it in the beginning of Chapter 26. The second direction will be to surmise as to why Pirsig would create an invidious distinction between philosophy and philosophology. In the end, I would like to balance Pirsig's philosophy with the distinction and Pirsig's view of philosophy barring such a distinction to see how well Pirsig matches with pragmatism.
I. Philosophology and Philosophy as a Natural Kind
A. Philosophology: Substance and History
Pirsig begins his onslaught on “philosophology” by saying that the word itself “had a nice dull, cumbersome, superfluous appearance that exactly fitted its subject matter.”4 Like musicology, art history, and literary criticism it is a “derivative, secondary field, a sometimes parasitic growth that likes to think it controls its host by analyzing and intellectualizing its host's behavior.”5 The analogy between fields like literary criticism and philosophology and a parasite is very effective. It relegates the fields to a lower status and treats them contemptuously, almost (almost!) going so far as to suggest that they should be abolished altogether, like a tapeworm that needs to be exterminated. Following this beating to “philosophologists,” Pirsig reveals who he is talking about: “philosophers who would normally condemn [philosophologists] are a null-class. They don't exist. Philosophologists, calling themselves philosophers, are just about all there are.”6 Pirsig's enemies are the inhabitants of university philosophy departments, generally the only types of people who are referred to nowadays as philosophers.
Philosophy, then, is the opposite of all this. It's the substance that philosophology studies. Pirsig's link to fields like art history and literary criticism gives us an insight into what Pirsig is talking about: history and criticism. His targets are those who catalog the history of a discipline and those that theorize about a discipline, rather than those who actually participate in a discipline. So, Pirsig's targets are philosophy history and philosophy criticism. This is where the problems begin.
If we take art and music as our first two examples, the problem will present itself. The first question is, “Can art and music students do without art history and music history?” At first one might think, “Sure, why not? What does it matter if a really good painter knows who Monet and Picasso are? Why does a singer need to know about Schoenberg and what he was up to? I'm sure they're not thinking of any of them when they're singing and painting.” At first the demand to know the history of your discipline seems like a reactionary thing to demand. Made by the old-guard before the avant-garde changes the rules. If that was all there was to this, just some left over snobbery from the intellectual ancien régime, it might seem well enough to chalk up this difference of opinion over philosophology to a difference in opinion about whether Verdi's La Traviata or Madonna's “Like a Prayer” is more respectable, over whether pop singers who are classically trained (like Mariah Carey) are more respectable then those who are not (like Brittany Spears), over whether there is a thing called “bullshit” art.
But after this initial thought, I would have some questions about how a person, ignoring history and tradition, learns how to sing or paint. If you ignore everything done in the past, will you turn out to be a great singer or painter? Will you, indeed, even know how to draw or sing a note? The answer is, “Yeah, possibly.” One can train themselves in all sorts of activities. If a person grew up in the wild and heard no music and talked to no musicians, had no contact with the outside world, and had a guitar, it is possible that the person could teach herself how to play like Jimmy Page without ever having heard Jimmy Page. Is it statistically likely? Hardly.
What I'm driving at is the common empiricist claim that Pirsig holds: we are born tabula rasa. Despite tacit agreement with Kant on certain kinds of a priori knowledge, Pirsig would largely agree that humans are born with no innate ideas, they learn them. Pirsig says, “One can imagine how an infant in the womb acquires awareness of simple distinctions such as pressure and sound, and then at birth acquires more complex ones of light and warmth and hunger.”7 The operative word is “acquire.” Babies aren't born knowing anything. They acquire patterns of behavior through time. So my question would be, “How does a baby grow up to be Jimmy Page or Monet or Verdi? Or even Brittany Spears?” They have to emulate them. If our little baby doesn't want to be any of these people, let's say she just wants to sing or paint, how is she usually taught? By belting out sound? By taking a brush and spilling paint everywhere? If a baby spilled paint all over a table, would we say she was painting? The answer: depends.
The evasiveness I've displayed so far is due to the problem that all of these questions depend on contingent circumstances. They depend on a community of people saying, “Yes, the baby is painting,” or “No, she was just reaching for her bottle of milk.” This kind of answer, of course, shows my true spots, but someone who believed in an objectively true way of painting would have to agree that the answer does depend on some people saying yes or no (though they would follow that with a, “And one group happens to be right and the other wrong.”). Either way, the answer depends on a tradition of answering the question in a certain way. When a person learns how to paint or sing, they are learning how to paint or sing like other people have sung or painted. They are inadvertently taking part in a tradition, a tradition that has a history, a history that is inadvertently being learned.
When we turn back to literature and philosophy, we can see what problems we're going to run into if we keep up with our distinction between philosophology and philosophy. In literature, the problem of doing creative writing without learning a little history of writing is pretty obvious. When a person literally not knowing how to write writes “ooo1o99ikl;i.,pyknulmmmmmmmmmm 111” because they literally don't know how to write (which goes along with reading), we are hesitant to say that they are adding a valuable brick to our cultural wall (even when our daughters at a young age write it). If a fourth grader writes a book that starts with, “And I have a cat. He smells like: Toast, and stuff; everytime,” and this book is slammed by every literary critic in the US, the kid can reply with the same rhetorical-community generating response that Pirsig gave: “Ya' know what, you lame-o' poindexters? You guys are just jealous that you can't write. You're just a derivative field that lives and dies off the stuff I write. You're just pissed because I'm writing literature and you're writing about literature.”
The first difficulty we've arrived at is the tenuous analogy that Pirsig draws between philosophology and art history. After lambasting the entire field of academic philosophy in two paragraphs, Pirsig draws a picture that no one can help but laugh at:
It would be ridiculous for an art historian to do that. But us delivering ridicule upon the head of the lame-brained academic seems to hinge on his confusing a discursive subject for a non-discursive one. The reason the art historian seems so silly is that writing a thesis on art is clearly different than painting. So what about literature? Though both creative writing and literary criticism are discursive, the line between the two does seem to be relatively easy to draw. It's the difference between Hamlet and Harold Bloom's Hamlet: Poem Unlimited, between Wordsworth's The Prelude and M. H. Abrams' Natural Supernatural. Though the line can obviously get a little blurry given my present object of inquiry, the line that is usually to be drawn is fairly clear.
In philosophy, distinguishing between the discipline's history and its substance becomes nigh impossible. Going back to our two subsets of philosophology, philosophy history and philosophy criticism, its difficult to separate where people are doing philosophy and where they're criticizing other people's philosophy. The difference between philosophy and literature is the difference between an assertive discipline and a non-assertive one. If you assert X, you are implicitly denying Y and Z. This immediately fits you into an historical narrative of people who have asserted X, Y, and Z and has you criticizing people who have held Y and Z. Pirsig himself shows that Plato's position is defined in part by Socrates' criticism of the Sophists.9 And we can keep going further back: the Sophists by opposition to the Cosmologists, the Cosmologists by its opposition to Homer, and on and on, ad infinitum, as far back as recorded history will take us, though we can surmise that it goes back even further than that. Pirsig's rhetorical strategy seems to be to ask us to ignore whatever the philosophical community has to say about him because they are just bitter about being unable to do real philosophy. Under this guise, however, it would appear we could say any damn thing and call it philosophy because who would tell us otherwise? After all, in a bout of rhetorical overkill, Pirsig says, “philosophers … are a null-class.” Well, if the list of contemporary philosophers is so small, it would have been nice if Pirsig could have provided us with a list so we could know who we can trust, who, in fact, we can listen to when they review his book and philosophy.
B. Philosophy as a Natural Kind
Pirsig doesn't give us a list, of course, because the guiding light of his first book is “And what is good, Phaedrus,/And what is not good—/Need we ask anyone these things?” Pirsig was attempting to shake us out of thinking that we needed to ask an authority what was good, that anyone had a special relation to the good that privileged them, like the priests of the Middle Ages. Pirsig doesn't give us a list because he thinks the best way to read philosophy is “first to figure out what you believe and then to see what great philosophers agree with you.”10 But where would these beliefs come from? We've already seen that Pirsig endorses the empiricist, tabula rasa image of learning, but I don't know what a person could end up believing at all if they never read anything or talked to anybody. The only thing you might generate beliefs about are spatiotemporal things, like about rocks and hunger. Pirsig seems to want to suggest that we should sit up on a mountain, isolated from everybody, especially the “very persuasive people” known as the great philosophers,11 and generate philosophical beliefs.
Even if we tone down the problem of forging beliefs on top of a mountain away from outside stimulus, there is another problem with this strategy. If we take Pirsig's suggestion and form our beliefs before we read the great philosophers, what's to ensure that we will have beliefs that are even of remote relevance to what the great philosophers thought? Take an economist: he might generate quite a few beliefs about stocks, commodities, and the GDP, but what has that got anything to do with Kant? Or a business executive: she could generate a belief or two about managing a meeting or a corporate takeover, but I doubt Descartes' books would have anything to say on the subject. The reply might be that, although Kant and Descartes may have nothing to add, Adam Smith and Machiavelli might. Smith and Machiavelli are not traditionally taught in philosophy departments, but many would accord them the mantle in the looser sense of offering general thoughts and wisdom. I don't think Pirsig exactly means this here, though. Pirsig would certainly agree with loosening up the sense given to philosophy to include more exotic specimens (like Abraham Lincoln12), but I think Pirsig is suggesting that we should be able to generate beliefs about what are called the “traditional problems of philosophy,” beliefs about free will and the possibility of knowledge, beliefs that link up directly to the main concerns of the great philosophers taught in contemporary philosophy departments.
I've already suggested that we wouldn't create any beliefs at all without outside incident, that the common claim of empiricists that Pirsig agrees to is that experience is a prerequisite for the generation of beliefs. The consequence of this claim is that we won't generate specific kinds of beliefs without specific kinds of experiences. If this is true, then it is quite possible that the economist and the business executive may never have anything in common to talk about with Kant and Descartes—unless there are certain kinds of experiences, and therefore certain kinds of beliefs, that one cannot help but have. This is what I think Pirsig would claim. Pirsig analogizes the relation between philosophy and philosophology to the relation between a horse and a cart respectively. While Pirsig didn't want to forget the horse, “philosophologists not only start by putting the cart first; they usually forget the horse entirely.”13 Pirsig, on the other hand, “sometimes forgot the cart but was fascinated by the horse.”14 I think Pirsig believes that there are certain kinds of problems, roughly those grouped under the mantle of the “traditional problems of philosophy,” that one will always encounter simply by virtue of existing, that the horse will always be available for examination. It is by making the traditional problems of philosophy studied in philosophy classes analogous to the spatiotemporal beliefs generated by babies that Pirsig creates a situation in which one can sit atop a mountain and be certain of being able to generate beliefs that are relevant to great philosophers like Kant and Descartes. This is how Pirsig can distinguish between philosophy's history and philosophy's substance. He can do this because he believes it possible to simply reflect on existence and come up with, e.g., beliefs about how we could be free in a cause and effect world.
This leads to the belief that philosophy is something that everybody can participate in, a kind of philosophical individualism where everyone is asked to reflect on their lives and existence to figure out what they think about these things, to take Socrates' advice and live the life worth living. Pirsig doesn't think that any damn thing is philosophy, but he does think we all have a connection to the subject material. Pirsig is suggesting, I think, that we do not need a sociologically constructed community of people (people traditionally called “philosophers”) to tell us what our subject material is. Pirsig is suggesting, instead, that the subject material of philosophers is “given,” that it is impossible not to be connected to, that there is a natural thing called philosophy and philosophical problems. That there is a natural thing called philosophy is what Pirsig's distinction between philosophology and philosophy hinges on. Pirsig's desire for true philosophers to be the kind who think creatively for themselves, to be the kind of person who simply reflects on his existence without attention to what others have thought before him, hinges on our ability to all reflect on something that is common to us all, something that we need no egg-headed, bitter, creativity stifling academic to tell us whether we are doing it or not, especially on how well we are doing it.
The belief that philosophy is a natural kind, that it has a subject material that is “given,” is the kind of Platonic belief that pragmatists eschew. Pragmatists follow Quine's dissolution of the analytic/synthetic distinction and Sellars' critique of the Myth of the Given. They think that the only ways in which to become fascinated by the “horse of philosophy,” by the problems that previous philosophers dreamt up, is to either experience the kinds of things that drove these earlier philosophers to dream them up (the moral and political disintegration of a democracy, the shaking of certainty in current knowledge, etc.) or to read their books and become captivated by their words, the picture they draw, the fly-bottle they construct, i.e., it is to read the philosophological cart. And since these earlier philosophers are “very persuasive people,” one can see how they may captivate and capture new disciples.15
One reason why the “traditional philosophical problems” and the traditional philosophers still resonate outside of their time and place, despite any historicizing of their thought, is that the philosophers themselves wrote as though they were speaking to all eternity. They formed their thoughts in a way that made it easy to think that they were speaking to all people at all times. They used thought experiments that could be easily reproduced, rather than their own personal historical experiences and travails, to contextualize and “pump up” the problems they saw. But not only do they write as though they are speaking to eternity, they actually thought they were speaking to eternity. Their project was the project of speaking to eternity.16 This all has the effect of making it seem as though these problems are perennial problems. In addition, these “very persuasive people” gain disciples over time, sometimes thousands of years, who continue to revamp and rejuvenate their master's problems into current jargon and lingo. The pragmatist is the type of philosopher who sees this revamping occur and says that we should stop it. The pragmatist sees Pirsig's rejuvenation of the notion of an eternal “horse of philosophy” and suggests that we stop thinking of philosophy this way.17
Like pragmatists, Pirsig does seem to want philosophy to be something wide, like as in Wilfrid Sellars' definition of philosophy as “the attempt to see how things, in the widest possible sense, hang together, in the widest possible sense.” Pirsig's stress for this synoptic vision is on creativity, rather than on scholastic study. Pirsig's problem with contemporary professional philosophers arises, however, because he doesn't simply think of philosophy as synoptic vision, he thinks of “philosophy as a name for the study of certain definite and permanent problems—deep-lying problems which any attempt at vision must confront: problems which professors of philosophy have a moral obligation to continue working on, whatever their current preoccupations.”18 If one agrees that “work by philosophers on the Cartesian problems has spun off plenty of new disciplines (formal logic, psychology, the history of ideas) but the problems stand as they stood—any respect in which they seem to have changed is easily dismissed as a confusion of ‘purely philosophical' problems with some ‘merely factual' question,”19 we can see Pirsig's problem to be one of purity. If philosophology is intellectual history, one of these spin-offs, and philosophy is the real deal, then Pirsig's angry because “original thinking” is “the heart and soul of philosophy”20 and professional philosophers are making it into a “merely factual” learning of past philosophers.
“Purifying” philosophy, however, is quite unpragmatic. If philosophy is simply the attempt to have a synoptic vision, then there is no center to philosophy and no need to worry all that much about whether an intellectual is really a philosopher or not, no need to make a big deal about the difference between a philosopher and a “philosophologist.”21 The only sense in which purity makes any sense in relation to philosophy-as-synoptic-vision is the sense in which one uses philosophy to scare away one's own personal demons, uses philosophy as therapy. This kind of purity is purity of the heart, but not of the heart of philosophy, rather one's own heart. To get any mileage out of this distinction, Pirsig needs philosophy to have a heart and the traditional heart of philosophy are the problems with which philosophers have thought were eternal.
The disagreement about whether or not philosophy has a heart, whether there are natural problems with which philosophy must attend to, is based on differing intuitions. The traditional philosopher has intuitions like “truth is a goal of inquiry,” “language represents reality,” and “humans have a special faculty called Reason.” The pragmatist is not disagreeing that we have these intuitions, she is rather suggesting that “we do our best to stop having such intuitions, that we develop a new intellectual tradition,”22 one in which we have intuitions like “truth is a property of sentences,” “language is a tool for coping with reality,” and “‘reasonable' is what humans are when they rely on persuasion rather than force.” The traditional philosopher believes that these basic intuitions arise when we reflect on our common existence. For the pragmatist, however, we gain intuitions by being educated in a certain intellectual tradition.23 There is no real way to argumentatively resolve this difference. The only way for this difference to be resolved is to try and make the old tradition look bad and a new tradition look better.24
II. Birth of a Philosopher
To sum up my argument so far: Pirsig's distinction between philosophy and philosophology is between philosophy's history and its substance, but it is not at all clear that one can separate the two. If one finds the history of philosophy dispensable, then one needs to either think of philosophy as a natural kind or as something wide like Sellars' definition of philosophy as “the attempt to see how things, in the widest sense of the term, hang together, in the widest sense of the term.” If you think the history of philosophy is dispensable and you don't think philosophy is a natural kind, then there's no assurance that you'll be talking about the same thing as the great philosophers. Pirsig does apparently think the history of philosophy is dispensable and he does think of philosophy as something wide and ubiquitous, but his concern for its purity, his anger at philosophologists, is misplaced unless he also thinks of philosophy as a natural kind. Purity only makes sense if there is a heart to what you love, a heart that is being betrayed, but it is not clear how one could betray the attempt to have a synoptic vision unless it is simply betrayal of the kind of visions you like. But this would be more like parochial, taste-mongering, rather than a misunderstanding of the subject material because a wide synoptic vision is exactly that because it does not have a specific subject material.
Pirsig falls into the trap of making an invidious distinction between philosophy and philosophology, I think, for two reasons. One, he fears the loss of a modern sense of objectivity, one that the Cartesian project of self-grounding was supposed to give us. In ZMM, Pirsig lauds science for its epistemological rigor and fears the loss of that rigor. In Lila, Pirsig attempts to usurp the authority of science that this rigor accrues it and use it for morality.25 That anything has epistemological authority is the modern sense of philosophy as Cartesian, as making an invidious distinction between objectivity and subjectivity. It is this distinction that pragmatists wish to eschew and Pirsig, at least part of the time, wishes to also.
The second reason I think Pirsig cuts a provocative line between philosophy and philosophology is because of his educational experience. Part of the meditation of ZMM is on Pirsig's dissatisfaction with current education. It comes out in throwaway lines like his description of education as “mass hypnosis”26 and in longer meditations like his lecture on the Church of Reason.27 If we simply meditate on the climax of Pirsig's description of his first stint in college, the same stint that produced his Cartesian Anxiety, we will begin to see how Pirsig's problem all hangs together and why Pirsig goes on to make an invidious distinction between philosophy and philosophology.28
A. Cartesian Anxiety
As I suggested earlier, pragmatists believe that we have the intuitions we do because of the experiences we have had and the intellectual traditions within which we are trained. To understand where these intuitions came from, we can give historical accounts of the times at which philosophers wrote and accounts of the philosophers' own developments. A full-scale rendering of Pirsig's place in American culture is beyond the limited scope of this essay, but I hope to give plausibility to my suggestion that Pirsig might be a traditional philosopher (and at the least sounds like one) by comparing Descartes' skeptical crisis to Pirsig's own skeptical crisis.
The skeptical “crisis” that Descartes found himself in during the 17th Century was partly born out of the confluence of Aristotelian and Platonic philosophies. Aristotelian philosophy had reached its apex in St. Thomas Aquinas during the 13th Century, but Platonic philosophy, following the disintegration of the Roman Empire, did not resurface in Europe until the 15th Century with Marsilio Ficino. This produced a disharmony in philosophical thought. The reason this disharmony created what we call the Skeptical Crisis was because the 17th Century's philosophical vocabulary had inherited the Greek distinction between scientia and opinio, what we might now misleadingly translate as knowledge and opinion. What counted as scientia was a belief that was absolutely certain. Opinio was merely probable opinion based on authority. What the Greeks and Renaissance Europeans did not have access to was the notion of a claim having an internal degree of probability—it was either absolutely demonstrable or based on the authority of the speaker.29 But between the time of the Greeks and the time of the Europeans, the epistemic categories of scientia and opinio had both come under heavy attack. The claims of Ockhamists, Augustinians, and the recovery of ancient skeptical writings suggested that “any attempt to establish scientia will inevitably come to grief in either vicious circularity or infinite regress.”30 As scientia began to yield terrain to the domain of opinio, greater and greater stress was put on the notion of authority, particularly as the number of voices of authority began to proliferate after the Protestant Reformation.31
So with philosophy, there abounded many philosophical voices, many authorities, especially those of the rediscovered Greeks. In particular, the claims of both Plato and Aristotle were that they themselves had demonstrated the truth, that they had established scientia, but there seemed to be no way of resolving their differences, dialectically or authoritatively. Jeffery Stout suggests that “this crisis, the setting of Descartes' dialectical problem, consists in the simultaneous disintegration of epistemic categories on both sides of the great divide. Descartes' problem was how to engage in responsible thought and effective persuasion when central categories were in such disrepair.”32 In the face of this crisis, Descartes sought to re-establish scientia on his own terms by breaking from the Greek tradition and creating his own method of certainty. His method was to bracket off all other philosophical opinions and simply reflect on his own existence, to see what would appear, what would be clear and distinct and indubitable. As he says in his Meditations, “In order to move the entire earth, Archimedes asked only for one firm and immovable point; similarly, I shall be entitled to entertain high hopes if I am fortunate enough to find one thing which is certain and indubitable.”33
In ZMM, Pirsig describes his experience as a University student studying science. Pirsig says that, “as a result of laboratory experience, he became interested in hypotheses as entities in themselves.”34 Scientific truth is established by testing hypotheses and weeding out the bad ones until there is only one candidate for belief. But Pirsig found that
But if the number of candidates for belief increases, how are we ever to establish what we are to believe? How are we to have any certainty whatsoever? Pirsig at first “found it amusing. He coined a law intended to have the humor of a Parkinson's law that ‘The number of rational hypotheses that can explain any given phenomenon is infinite.'”36 But after a while, Pirsig began feeling anxious, for “if true, that law is not a minor flaw in scientific reasoning. The law is completely nihilistic. It is a catastrophic logical disproof of the general validity of all scientific method!”37 Pirsig's solution was to hunt down the “ghost of rationality” and finally break away from the Greek ghosts that were haunting him.
Like Descartes, Pirsig found himself embattled by doubt in what he was doing. Pirsig, like Descartes, was in the business of adding to the edifice of Western knowledge, but found himself questioning the very validity of calling this edifice knowledge. This led to a very profound spiritual crisis for both men. Both were taken with anxiety over being left without a solid foundation for our reasoning, for our knowledge. Descartes says that “I am like someone who, having unexpectedly fallen into deep water, is so disconcerted that he can neither gain a foothold on the bottom nor swim on the surface.”38 For Pirsig, the catastrophe of nihilism is the end result. Richard Bernstein says that the
Replace the “beneficient God” with “Quality” and I think you have very much the same tale, the same journey, with very much the same kind of moral and the same reassurance at the end of the story: “We've won it. It's going to get better now. You can sort of tell these things.”40 Is Pirsig entitled to this assurance? I'm not sure that he is, nor that he should need it. For Pirsig, to achieve this assurance, what Nietzsche despairingly called “metaphysical comfort,” he had to go into the “discipline of philosophy.” Pirsig “saw philosophy as the highest echelon of the entire hierarchy of knowledge.”41 For pragmatists, the dream of philosophy being the Queen of the Sciences is a Kantian dream, one that should be dispensed with along with the attendant notion that knowledge even has a hierarchy.
The first time Pirsig was in college, he flunked out after he became obsessed with the nature of hypotheses, as described above. What is interesting about the passage in which Pirsig relates these events is the way in which he does so. Pirsig spends several pages setting up the severity and scope of the Cartesian problem he perceives, presenting it calmly like a historian, yet playfully letting the drama build into a climax that, given its genesis in the laboratory of a freshman biochem major, might seem histrionic:
Pirsig then concludes with two staccato paragraphs of two sentences each:
And so Phaedrus, who at the age of fifteen had finished his freshman year of science, was at the age of seventeen expelled from the University for failing grades. Immaturity and inattention to studies were given as official causes.
After raising our social situation to a fevered pitch, Pirsig caps the maelstrom with an individual case of disaster. Stirring two pots at once, Pirsig ties them together and boils them both over. The above passage has amazing rhetorical effect in both presenting the hopeless situation that created Phaedrus and filling the reader with sympathy for his failure.
Pirsig's ambiguous relation to the educational establishment is encapsulated in these two short paragraphs and, I think, gives us the best biographical clue as to why Pirsig creates the distinction between philosophy and philosophology as he does. The speed and abruptness with which Pirsig both summarizes and concludes the story of his first brief tenure at university suggests that it has left an indelible mark on him. But what kind of mark is it? Pirsig says that “immaturity and inattention to studies were given as official causes” to his expulsion, suggesting that these were not the real causes. He leaves off scare quotes around “official” partly as a lead into the exculpatory second paragraph. There was “nothing anyone could have done about it,” to “prevent it or correct it.” But why? He exonerates the university, but the work Pirsig does on the “standards” the university itself uses in the latter parts of ZMM makes you wonder how far the pardon goes. Pirsig is aware that he is involved in a large scale cultural transformation and that such transformation is never easy. It requires winners and losers, just as the Zuñi priests lost to the brujo.44 Throughout the beginning of ZMM, in setting up the cultural situation we find ourselves in, Pirsig displays great existential Angst in the kind of epileptic choices we moderns are forced to make because of our situation. He empathizes with John and Sylvia's anti-technological feelings, the implicit awkward and unapproached attitude that for all its modern convenience, all the ugly metal and gears of the world should be purged and our lives would be better for it. Pirsig recognizes that modern technology is a boon to the world, but our attitude is what's wrong. Pirsig wants to change our situation, but he doesn't doubt that the first generation, educated as he has been, will go through the growing pains that all adolescents must endure when they mature.
Pirsig doesn't blame the university for failing him, but he cannot help but feel as though it was an injustice. There is a better way if only they'd see it. Pirsig continually reflects the antiestablishmentarian mood of the sixties and seventies by fighting every authority figure he comes across. Pirsig says that “he felt that institutions such as schools, churches, governments and political organizations of every sort all tended to direct thought for ends other than truth….”45 The mood of Pirsig's stories are highly antagonistic, in particular his education stories. His science professors are stuck in an unreflective abyss, so, not knowing what else to do (what teenager would?), he despairs and flunks out. Finding perhaps a better fit for his speculative and reflective interests in philosophy, Pirsig still says that “he's such an abominable scholar it must be through the kindness of his instructors that he passes at all,”46 (which is probably the nicest thing he says about any of his teachers) suggesting a constant struggle between Pirsig and his teachers. Pirsig goes to Benares Hindu University and just gets up and leaves because he was tired of the philosophy professor “blithely expounding on the illusory nature of the world.”47 Pirsig never even feels comfortable himself in his own role as part of the establishment, always favoring the outcasts in the back of the class. His Church of Reason lecture, in fact, is in no small part a reflection of his pessimism for the educative act.48 And then comes Chicago, probably the most famous section of ZMM. His war with the Professor of Philosophy and the Chairman (Richard McKeon) have become legendary. A reading of the Chicago episode, and his peculiar relationship with McKeon, is surely outside the bounds of this paper. But I think it might be sufficient to note that Pirsig, reflecting on the incident almost forty years later, says that he “was an outsider who seemed more interested in attacking what was being taught than learning from it. My hyperactive mind seized upon this [the analogy between himself and a wolf] as my definitive relationship to the school….”49 I think this simple rehearsal of Pirsig's educational history supplies us with the antiauthoritarian context with which to fit Pirsig's comments about philosophology.
C. Around the Bend Again
So far I have focused exclusively on a few sections of Pirsig's first two books. To again summarize what I have been saying I would like to take the context and arguments I have been wielding and quickly direct them on one of Pirsig's post-Lila writings. The most important piece for my purposes is Pirsig's introduction to Lila's Child. In the introduction, Pirsig is basically at work attempting to clear rhetorical space for the opinions of “amateur,” non-professional philosophers, those writers who first made up the original Pirsig discussion group, the Lila Squad. Pirsig begins the introduction by saying that it was “fortunate” that he stayed out of the online discussion, for it was “intense and diverse” and “could never have achieved its insights and discoveries” if Pirsig had been “dominating” the conversation with his “‘expert' opinion.”50 Pirsig sets the tone right from the beginning by balancing the insightful “amateurs” on one side and dominating “experts” on the other, which strikes obvious resonance with Pirsig's antiestablishmentarianism. But Pirsig takes up the pertinent observation that the discussion “sounds amateurish and mistaken” and “ill-informed.”51 He does this by taking up again his distinction between “real philosophy” and “philosophology.”52
Pirsig begins by making
Pirsig here runs headlong into all the questions I asked the first time around. How can we tell the difference between philosophy's substance and its history, when a speaker is forming opinions about the “general nature of the world” and when he is criticizing the opinions that have come before him? Isn't an opinion implicitly, if not explicitly, an affirmation or denunciation of other opinions on the same subject? And if you took these opinions and took the other opinions they implicitly affirmed and denied, would the “opinions of the speaker himself” not sort out the history of philosophy into a number of classificatory boxes, say No, Almost, Closer, and Yes?
Pirsig then tries to rehabilitate his analogy of philosophy to art, except that now the analogy has changed and become something more general. No longer is Pirsig attempting to make a discursive activity look like a non-discursive one. Whereas before we could pick apart Pirsig's distinction by saying that Pirsig was ignoring a few obvious differences between non-assertive disciplines like art and literature and assertive disciplines like philosophy, he is now claiming something a little different. After distinguishing between real philosophy as opinions “about the general nature of the world” and philosophology as a “classification of someone else's opinions,” Pirsig says that he remembers how a professor of art “was outraged when he heard that an Art Historian told one of his students that he should give up painting because it was obvious the student would never equal the great masters.” While the art historians and philosophologists “thought they were preserving the standards of art, they were in fact destroying them.” Philosophy is not “just the static achievements of the masters of the past. Philosophy is the creative Dynamic Quality of the philosopher of the present.”54
What is imperative to notice is that Pirsig is shifting between two rhetorical stances and changing the dialectical grip on his weapon. The hardline stance is exemplified by a distinction between “real philosophy” and “philosophology” (a red flag for thinking of philosophy as a natural kind) and is how Pirsig argues in Lila. The softer stance, though, is the one he actually uses to blast the philosophical establishment. No longer are philosophy and philosophology different in kind, rather philosophy is “not just a classification,” not “just the static achievements of the masters of the past,” but also a philosophy of the present. But nobody thinks that philosophy is simply intellectual history. Only the worst professor teaching at a remote community college in the upper reaches of Whoknowswhereville would confuse the two. Some professors put more emphasis on the history of philosophy, some do not.
As for preserving the “standards of philosophy,” there are those who attempt something of the kind, but more often than not it doesn't come from art historians or intellectual historians, but rather from the practicing artists or philosophers themselves (who, in larger universities, are cordoned off from their historical counterparts in different departments). This is a lamentable practice, but I don't think it is as widespread a disease as Pirsig thinks it. There are those like the Chairman who only graduate “carbon copies” of themselves,55 but there are also those like Stanely Fish, who as Chairman of Duke University's English Department surrounded himself with academics of wildly different stripes, all in the hopes of raising the level of conversation between those with differing theoretical conceptions. There will always be those teachers who attempt to hypostatize their way of doing things as handed down to them by God on Mt. Sinai and those more easy-going teachers who are more receptive to alternative ways. By and large we'd like to call the latter group “good teachers” and the former group “bad,” but this isn't necessarily so, just as this way of teaching speaks nothing of the particular way they do things.
What I think Pirsig is railing against is the tendency of philosophy professors to discourage free speculation on the part their students. But every professor in every department does this. Every class taught anywhere in an educational setting is limited by the focus of the class. A class about metaphysics is precisely that because it is not a class about art history. Pirsig understands this, though. As he says after flunking out of school, “the questions he had asked about infinite hypotheses hadn't been of interest to science because they weren't scientific questions.”56 What Pirsig wants to distinguish between are classes entitled “Kant” and classes entitled “Free Will and Determinism.” In the former class, you are learning about a particular philosopher, whereas in the latter you are learning about a philosophical problem. In the former class, it might be reasonable to expect your students to stick to an historical figure, but in the latter class Pirsig wants to know why we need to attend at all to what others have thought about it. Why can't we just construct an answer to the problem? But here Pirsig would slip back into thinking of philosophy as a natural kind. For I would ask how we would even know what the problem of free will and determinism is if we did not read, say, Kant, G. E. Moore, Harry Frankfurt, or Daniel Dennett. The only way to conduct a class centered around a problem is to do a lot of stage-setting for the problem, which is exactly what the history of philosophy is.
If there is a tendency to constrain free-wheeling adolescents, it is the good one of trying to get them to focus. If the focus of the class is learning what Kant said about this or that issue, then that's the focus of the class: you can choose whether or not you'll take it. Again, we'd like to think that teachers who place less emphasis on “my way or the highway” are better teachers, but it isn't necessarily so. In some kinds of classes, there needs to be a high level of focus. But Pirsig's criticism is still hanging over us: he isn't saying that students shouldn't focus, he's arguing that all academic philosophers ever do is attend to someone else's writings. Pirsig can agree with Quine's quip that people go into philosophy because some are interested in the history of philosophy, and some in philosophy, but say that Quine is also still too caught up in the history of philosophy by arguing against Kant, against Frege, against Carnap, rather than just staking out a position of his own. But as I've said, in an assertive discipline your own position is at least implicitly defined as being against X, Y, and Z and with A, B, and C. Stanley Cavell remarked once that Heidegger wrote as if he had read all of the history of philosophy and Wittgenstein wrote as if he had read none. Wittgenstein is clearly a remarkable philosopher. My argument is not that you must read a lot of philosophy to take part in it, simply that many of the things that philosophy struggles with on a day-to-day basis are not things that immediately come to mind for the man on the street. It takes a particular kind of mental makeup, a particular set of beliefs and intuitions about the world, to simply reflect and stumble into the problem of free will. So, while Wittgenstein may not have read much philosophy, part of the project of Wittgenstein scholars is writing narratives in which to fit Wittgenstein as against Plato, against Descartes, etc. If his writings didn't fit easily in these narratives, then we might resonably question whether or not he was a philosopher, and should not be called, say, an economist or business executive.
If Pirsig does not believe that philosophy is a natural kind, that there are natural problems of existence that you cannot help but stumble upon when reflecting, then his pejorative use of “philosophology” is significantly, if not completely, compromised. Academic philosophers, as a class, have not degenerated into people who confuse intellectual history with philosophy, nor have they all degenerated into teachers who refuse to let their students criticize past philosophers. The entire point of receiving some ten years of education before entering the professorial ranks is to be able to criticize anybody and everybody else on the other side. What undergraduate teachers would like to do is show their students where the bar of good criticism resides and to discourage premature judgments like “and so we shall never have to read Plato or Kant again because, as I have shown in the previous five, double-spaced pages, everything they wrote was crap.” Professors don't demand that “you should read what all the great philosophers of history have said and then you should decide what you want to say.”57 Professors simply take for granted that it usually takes a lot of stage-setting for good criticism to occur. It is the difference between informed and uninformed opinion.
III. Philosophy Reborn
A. Philosophical Individualism
I would like to begin again from ZMM's guiding passage, to which I referred to earlier: “And what is good, Phaedrus,/And what is not good—/Need we ask anyone these things?” This statement is a direct reflection of Pirsig's antiauthoritarianism. Philosophy, for Pirsig, is as Socrates envisioned it: a personal reflection that each individual is responsible for. Cavell says of Socrates that
The notion that some people have a special, privileged relation to Quality, making them an authority, is something that Pirsig bucks hard against. Each of us is directly connected to Quality. When Pirsig says that “true philosophy doesn't get in [the academic door] at all,”59 I think we should take Pirsig as suggesting that philosophy is unprofessionalizable. Creative art, creative writing, and creative philosophy don't have a secure place in the professional academy not because of some animosity the professionals have towards them, as if academics are failed painters, novelists, and philosophers, which is how Pirsig seems to paint them (though they may yet be), but because, as Pirsig says, they “are almost impossible to teach.”60 There is very little you can do to teach these subjects outside of a few general bromides. Encouragement and specific work-in-progress suggestions are about all a teacher can do. As Rorty says, “Teaching is largely a matter of some kind of rapport established between the teacher and the student. This is purely accidental and unpredictable and unplannable. You can have an utterly dry teaching style and yet something in what you're saying and the way you're saying it will turn certain students on.”61
For Pirsig, the philosopher is someone that sorts through his experiences and generates general reflections on them. This is wisdom. Pirsig goes back to the older, etymological origin of philosophy and tries to reinstate it. Philosophy is not about principles and programs, its about reflection and practical application. Socrates never generated a program or any principles, he entered into conversations in the hope of inspiring participants to rethink that which they held to be self-evident. But the question that has driven my exploration of philosophology has been: Why is the history of philosophy bracketed off from the kinds of experiences that are the legitimate concern of philosophy? Why is the experience of a book relegated to a lower position than the experience of a hot dog? There can be no theoretical, universal reason for this (that would be the kind of “intellectualizing of its hosts behavior” that Pirsig condemns), though we can give practical, context-dependent reasons. For instance, in Pirsig's case it is imperative that his quest for inner peace cross through the history of philosophy. It is important for him to engage in conversation with the great, dead philosophers to achieve a measure of wisdom on how to deal with them. This is purity for his heart, not the heart of philosophy. Pirsig has given us good wisdom on how to deal with some of the problems that appear when your heart has fallen in love the problems of the ancients. But philosophy, like Quality, has no heart, no essence because it is an activity engaged in by individuals, just as Quality is always in the process of becoming, static to Dynamic.
After Pirsig's decisive antiauthoritarian move, Pirsig runs into the same problem that the post-Luther philosophers ran into. Now that we've moved authority into the individual, how do we deal with so many voices? No longer do the professional philosophers have sole claim on wisdom, just as the priests lost theirs. But how do we adjudicate what is good, what is wisdom? The answer for Pirsig is clearly through conversation with others, as his extolment of the original Lila's Squad attests. With chess as his analogy to philosophy, he says, “real chess is the game you play with your neighbor. Real chess is ‘muddling through.'”64 But what about the chess partner who's played a lot of chess, or, more clearly in line with Pirsig's aim, the partner who has read Chess for Dummies? If we are dealing with problems that have clear resonance in the history of philosophy, why should people who have spent much of their lives studying that history be denied a place in the conversation? Pirsig clearly wants to open up rhetorical space for the non-academic, which is good and needed, but his move is too over the top. We mustn't forget Hegel:
Philosophers who have read the canon do not have intrinsic merit over their other conversation partners, but they have experience in dealing with these problems and they have wisdom to show for it. We shouldn't shut that wisdom out simply because much of philosophy has intended to make of itself more than simple wisdom or that some practitioners are pricks. The danger that Pirsig must steer clear of is what Habermas calls the “philosophy of subjectivity,” philosophy that stays within self-reflection and takes that as definitive, as the “oracle within the breast.” Instead, we should remember Hegel's “achieved community of minds,” what Habermas calls “communicative reason.” This is the reason and wisdom that Socrates desired above all else. The dialectic used by Socrates is not the mathematical, Euclidean inspired method that Plato wanted it to be, but a model of conversation with your fellows.
What I think we find in Pirsig is the same kind of view towards history as in Rorty. Rorty is more historically conscious than Pirsig in his formulation of philosophy, but the historicism that Rorty finds in Hegel I think sits in the background of Pirsig. When Pirsig speaks of the mythos as a “building of analogues upon analogues upon analogues” 66 and of the real university as a “state of mind,” “that great heritage of rational thought that has been brought down to us through the centuries,” 67 he's reflecting this historicism. As almost a straight page from Hegel himself, Pirsig says the “real University is nothing less than the continuing body of reason itself.”68 When Pirsig talks about the dialectic between static and Dynamic Quality, he's expressing this Kuhnian-Hegelian view of history. Knowledge is not a straight move forward, truth not veritical, as the positivists would have it. It is a series of lateral paradigm shifts: “Lateral truths point to the falseness of axioms and postulates underlying one's existing system of getting at truth.”69 Pirsig's historicism is summed up best by his discourse on Western ghosts, a section that appears very early on in ZMM. In what should set the tone for Pirsig's entire project, a tone that is there in his lecture on the Church of Reason, but is surely lost by the time of his discussion of philosophology, Pirsig says, “The law of gravity and gravity itself did not exist before Isaac Newton.” When John asks, “Why does everybody believe in the law of gravity then?” Pirsig responds, “Mass hypnosis. In a very orthodox form known as ‘education.'”70 Flip, even petulant, but right. However, I think his flippancy here begins to tear a hole in his project. What begins as a cynical (though perhaps deserved) attitude toward current education, eventually turns into an almost full scale divorce between Pirsig and his historicism.
For the Pirsig who wants us to kibitz with the history of philosophy, philosophy is more than a general reflection on existence, it's a conversation where past figures become relevant to who we are in the present. When Pirsig says that the best way to read the history of philosophy is “first to figure out what you believe and then to see what great philosophers agree with you…. These will be much more interesting to read since you can cheer what they say and boo their enemies,”71 he's urging us all to construct our own canon of philosophy, a genre of philosophical historiography that Rorty calls Geistesgeschichte, “great big stories, sweeping over many centuries.”72 This is the kind of story we find Pirsig telling time and time again to explain to us how we've gotten to where we are. Pirsig's stories of Plato and the Sophists and Boas and the anthropologists are reflections of how Hegel thought of philosophy: “Whatever happens, every individual is a child of his time; so philosophy too is its time apprehended in thoughts.”73 Expressing the philosophical individualism common to both Pirsig and Rorty, Rorty construes Hegel as saying, “find a description of all the things characteristic of your time of which you most approve, with which you unflinchingly identify, a description which will serve as a description of the end toward which the historical developments which led up to your time were means.”74 If we suspend the way Pirsig appears at times to want us to generate beliefs (out of thin air) and go with a more traditional picture of belief generation (experience some stuff, think about it, generate some beliefs; read some stuff, think about it, generate and revise some more beliefs), then Pirsig is saying a very Rortyan, syncretist thing: look at intellectual history as the task of finding heroes and villians. Like the Bloomian idea of “strong misreadings,” you take your belief structure and fit it on top of what they are saying. This isn't to change what they were saying to themselves, this is to make them say something to us, to save them from the dustbin of history and include them in the philosophy of the present. It is to say that the “history of philosophy is not merely an archive for philosophy but a part of it.”75
B. Concluding Remarks
At the end of his introduction to Lila's Child, Pirsig has this to say about his interjected comments:
Again we find Pirsig denigrating the philosophologist with no small amount of sarcasm. And just as Pirsig feels the need to justify his remarks because of the corner he paints himself vis-à-vis the philosophologist, I naturally feel some pressure to justify myself given the portrait Pirsig paints. This entire paper should be read as a justification for itself, but I think some concluding things can be said that will lessen the pain that Pirsig, for one, feels in writing the notes to Lila's Child.
In a series of letters to various conversants, some involved in the original Lila's Squad, some more current participants, Pirsig alludes to the kind of philosophical individualism I tried developing in the section before. In a letter on the explication of the intellectual level, Pirsig says that “Perhaps you can pass all this along to the Lila Squad with the caveat that this is not a Papal Bull, as some would have it, or just plain bull, as others will see it, but merely another opinion on the subject that it is hoped will help.”77 Socratic dialogue is what Pirsig desires above all else, the give and take of individuals making their way through the world. In another letter, Pirsig takes up the question of “Does the MOQ value its own extension?”78 Pirsig's answer is that “the MOQ values its own extension but not its own destruction and the dividing line between these two cannot be decided in general terms.”79 His answer, though, is not as interesting as the terms in which the question is formulated. Pirsig isn't talking about his personal philosophy, he's talking about the MoQ as separate from himself. As I noted before, I think this is a bad sign. From an individualist point of view, the point of view that Hegel, Rorty, and Pirsig (at times) all hold, the only point of view worth caring about is the individual philosopher's. Does the MoQ value its own extension? Sure it does. If we are giving intentions to paradigms of thought, what paradigm wouldn't “value its own extension but not its own destruction”? But we philosophers shouldn't care about what a paradigm wants, we should care about what we want, what our time calls for. For Pirsig, the MoQ is an intellectual pattern80 and, as Pirsig himself says, “patterns can't by themselves perceive or adjust to Dynamic Quality. Only a living being can do that.”81 If we look at the MoQ as a static-Dynamic dialectic, then it captures the Hegelian movement of history. But if we look at the MoQ as a system, then it literalizes itself and begs to be surpassed.
This really sums up my view of Pirsig's accomplishment. I view Pirsig as having given us bits and pieces of jargon, as developing a new vocabulary with which to work with. But if we view Pirsig as having developed a self-enclosed system, then it becomes harder to hold onto the things he's said because it appears to be an all-or-nothing deal. This roughly corresponds to Rorty's distinction between edifying and systematic philosophers. For Rorty, “edification” is the “project of finding new, better, more interesting, more fruitful ways of speaking.”82 In Pirsig's lingo, edification is the search for lateral truths, whereas systematic philosophy is the search for frontal truths. Edifying philosophy can take the form of “making connections between our own culture and some exotic culture or historical period, or between our own discipline and another discipline.” But it may also
We can see Pirsig doing all of these things, connecting the West to the East, the 20th century to Ancient Greece. And then there's his poetic creations, Quality and the static-Dynamic dialectic. In his weaker moments, I think Pirsig wants to be systematic, but in his stronger, more individualistic moments, he simply wants to edify.
The epitome of Pirsig's philosophical individualism and his attachment to edification comes in his Forward to Zen Environment by Marian Mountain. Pirsig says that “Zen is nothing other than what happens to individual people, and zen accounts which stay close to personal circumstances are truer than those which generalize.”
Not only is this a wonderful description of the hermeneutical circle, but I think it is something we can take back to ZMM itself. When we treat ZMM like a menu, we come away with much that can be digested. But its when we read it like a detective story, when we find out that Phaedrus the systematizer, wins the psychic struggle at the climax of the story against the narrator, the practical minded Chautauquatizer, who is the real murderer, that is when we come away with something like the MoQ as a constructive system. Systematic philosophy aims at “universal commensuration in a final vocabulary,”85 whereas edifying philosophy is skeptical about any ultimate commensuration. Edifying philosophers simply wish to pass along what little wisdom they have picked up and continue the conversation. Toulmin astutely encapsulates Rorty's philosophical individualism when he says that for Rorty philosophers should “join in a personal conversation about the world as they see it, from all of their individual points of view.” This view is the view of “philosophy as a kind of autobiography,”86 what John Caputo calls an “Hegelianism for the people.”87 When Pirsig wants to continue the conversation of the West by adding in other elements he has picked up along the way, he's singing in a pragmatic key. When Pirsig is busy pulling philosophy out of the details of his own life, he is writing in the pragmatic style. For pragmatists like Rorty, philosophy is largely a matter of mixing the old vocabularies of the past with some new, not-quite-worked-out vocabulary.88 What we shouldn't be surprised of is if, upon reflection, we find that our intellectual pioneers have held on to old pieces of vocabulary that we now wish to give up. This is what I think of Pirsig's desires for “system.”
This is why I think his analogy of philosophy to chess to be very misleading. He says that “both are highly intellectual pursuits in which one tries to manipulate symbols within a set of rules to improve a given situation.”89 But the notion of having a predefined set of rules with which to resolve issues is the Platonic dream of gaining argumentative mastery over your opponent, the Platonic dream of dialectic as method. This is the dream of the systematizer. For the pragmatist, however, “Philosophy [is] the greatest game of all precisely because it is the game of ‘changing the rules.'”90 This is the philosophy that recognizes that everything may suddenly change when a new interlocuter ushers in a few new lateral truths. For edifying, pragmatist philosophers the conversation must never end because the possibility of new points of wisdom, new lateral truths, must never dry up. These philosophers follow the equally Platonic dream of gaining wisdom, the Platonic dream of dialectic as conversation.
In a letter to the Lila Squad, Pirsig says, “Parents have to let go of their children and children have to make it in the world on their own.”91 This is another place where Pirsig's philospohical individualism resonates. It reminds me of when Rorty says, “Once we write our books, we should, I think, sit back and say, ‘Habent sua fata libelli; anybody who cares enough to read them can do what they want to with my books, and good luck to them.'”92 Pirsig, however, continues: “But when a child enters the world for the first time and, for reasons that have nothing to do with his or her own merits, is shunned by snobs or attacked by bullies, it is very hard for a parent to watch.”93 Here Pirsig is intoning his populist rhetoric against academics. Pirsig's complete dismissal of all academics as “philosophologists” condemns them all as “snobs and bullies.” Obviously Pirsig does not think all academic philosophers are snobs and bullies, but look at the way Pirsig sets the rhetorical stage. In Lila he calls them “parasites” and says what they do is “ridiculous.” In his 1997 letter to Doug Renselle, he says that philosophers “don't even want to hear about [the MoQ]” and precedes to line up all academic philosophers as SOMist philosophers, that “real enemy, the Subject-Object Goliath that's waiting to pounce.”94 With that in the background, with reviewers like Galen Strawson and “dozens more like them,”95 we read the line about Pirsig's child being “shunned by snobs or attacked by bullies,” and the obvious conclusion we are led to is that academic philosophers are “snobs and bullies.” And who wants to have a conversation with a snob or bully? But you have to ask yourself, are academic philosophers institutionally snobbish and bullying? Or is that a trait pretty randomly dispersed to the entire population, be you academic or mechanic? Being mechanically illiterate, I've had more than my fair share of eye rolls when I reply, “Carberator-what?”
A finer tuned piece of populism you'll rarely see, but this cannot be good, for now we wisdom seekers have struck these “snobs and bullies” from the conversation, we've told them that they aren't doing “real philosophy,” they're doing “philosophology.” Pirsig runs the danger of being read as systematic, rather than as an edifying, zen discourser. For as Rorty says,
Revolutionary philosophers can come as systematic proposals (like Russell or Husserl) or as edifying discourse (like Kierkegaard or Nietzsche). But, unlike systematic proposals, professionalization is almost impossible to achieve around edifying discourse because there are no rules to edifying discourse: its simply an ever-changing conversation. When Pirsig starts his populist rhetoric, when he rolls out the cat-call of “Philosophologist!”, he's belittling the professionals, but the epithet comes swinging back because Pirsig looks like he wants to institute a new group of professionals, thereby making him look more and more systematic. What's more, as Stanley Cavell says, “Innovation in philosophy has characteristically gone together with a repudiation … of most of the history of the subject.”97 Surely Pirsig's innovative, and surely his mocking of SOM is his repudiation of the tradition. After all, he's already shown that he's more than willing to roll up most philosophers who disagree with him as “Subject-Object Goliaths.” But doesn't this mean, then, that a major part of Pirsig's project is philosophology? Isn't this starting to look an awful lot like Plato's condemnation of the Sophists, when all along Plato's hero was a Sophist?
In closing, I'll end with this suggestion from Rorty:
Surely it is regrettable if people don't find anything of use in Pirsig's books, but then there are a lot of people who don't find anything of use in Pirsig's books, or any book for that matter: why single out a small cross-section? Looking at the structure of events, though, we can see that ZMM was not just a popular success, it was also a critical success with popular and academic critics.99 What becomes obvious is that Pirsig was reacting in Lila to the lack of professional philosophical attention given to his first book, but if one of Pirsig's main philosophical efforts is to deprofessionalize philosophy, why care so much in what they think? Surely Pirsig doesn't read every philosophy book that's released. How could anybody, let alone the fact that he's already said that you shouldn't, that that's a primary mark of the parasitic philosophologist? So why all the animus about “cultural resistance,”100 on being “shunned” and “ignored?”101 Why see it as an insidious cultural pseudo-conspiracy and not simply as a reinforcement of the cliché “it takes different strokes for different folks”? I think its only when Pirsig thinks of his book as a system, as a monolith that must be climbed or surmounted, that such thoughts will arise. Pirsig's effort to deprofessionalize philosophy resonates deeply with pragmatists, but to continue further and call the professionals names can't be a good habit for a conversation partner. Surely there are sinners, but ye who hath not sinned throw the first stone.
When I finished my previous essay, “Confessions of a Fallen Priest,” I left many avenues open for persual in regards to Pirsig's philosophy. The choice between what I called the pragmatist Pirsig and the Kantian Pirsig I suggested was a choice of emphasis on the Pirsig of ZMM and the Pirsig of Lila, though, I warned, he showed both tendencies in both books. In my continuing exploration of Pirsig I've come to realize that Pirsig's Kantian tendencies (in the present essay, his “traditional” tendencies) are much deeper seeded then I first thought. As my preoccupation with Pirsig's recounting of Phaedrus' birth should suggest, I think Pirsig's problem to be as originary as Pirsig thinks the Western tradition's. Spelling out this problem runs us straight to the heart of how Pirsig sees himself, to what he thinks philosophy is, and metaphilosophy is where we must split the difference between Pirsig's conflicting desires.
The present essay is much more aggressive and critical than “Confessions” and both ended up being far more critical than when I had started them. Once digested and passed, rather than thrown up, an appropriate response is that I've inadvertantly killed my patient, that Pirsig's heart has been cut out. I don't think this is quite true, though I must admit that I'm finding the need to cut out more and more. My attitude towards Pirsig is still like Rorty's towards Derrida: true, he makes metaphysical noises from time to time, but they can be glossed over and redescribed fairly easily. In Lila the noises are pretty loud and boisterous, but I think they are just part of his presentation as opposed to central to his project. As I see it, Pirsig is struggling very hard to say non-metaphysical things in metaphysical language, which is what every would be pragmatist has done since Protagoras' time. Each one was limited by their time, but each helped us move on to our increasingly pragmatic intellectual culture.
Bernstein, Richard J. Beyond Objectivism and Relativism. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985.
Brandom, Robert B. ed. Rorty and His Critics. Malden: Blackwell, 2000.
-----“Response to Bouveresse” by Richard Rorty, p. 146-55
Cavell, Stanley. Must We Mean What We Say?. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1969, 1976.
-----“An Audience for Philosophy” p. xvii-xxix
Descartes, René. Essential Works of Descartes. trans. Lowell Blair. New York: Bantam Books, 1961.
DiSanto, Ronald and Thomas Steele. Guidebook to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. New York: William Morrow, 1990.
Hall, David L. Richard Rorty: Prophet and Poet of the New Pragmatism. New York: SUNY Press, 1994.
Hegel, G. W. F. Phenomenology of Spirit. trans. A. V. Miller. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.
-- --. Philosophy of Right. trans. T. M. Knox. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1952.
Hollinger, Robert. ed. Hermeneutics and Praxis. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1985.
-----“The Thought of Being and the Conversation of Mankind: The Case of Heidegger and Rorty” by John D. Caputo, p. 248-271
Kazin, Michael. The Populist Persuasion. Rev. ed. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995, 1998.
MacIntyre, Alasdair. After Virtue. 2nd ed. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981, 1984.
Mountain, Marian. The Zen Environment. New York: William Morrow, 1982.
Neiman, Susan. Evil in Modern Thought. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002, 2004.
Pirsig, Robert M. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. New York: William Morrow, 1974, 1999.
-- --. Lila. New York: Bantam, 1991.
-- --. “Subjects, Objects, Data and Values.” found at www.moq.org
-- --. “Letter to Doug Renselle.” found at www.quantonics.com
-- --. “Letter to the Lila Squad.” found at www.moq.org
-- --. “Letter to Bodvar Skutvik.” found at www.moq.org
-- --. “Introduction to Lila's Child.” can be found at www.1stbooks.com/bookview/12646
-- --. “Letter to Paul Turner.” found at www.moq.org
Rorty, Richard. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979.
-- --. Consequences of Pragmatism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982.
-----“Pragmatism and Philosophy” p. xiii-xliv
-----“Keeping Philosophy Pure: An Essay on Wittgenstein” p. 19-36
-- --. Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
-- --. Truth and Progress. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
-----“The Historiography of Philosophy: Four Genres” p. 247-73
-- --. “A Talent for Bricolage.” can be found at www.princeton.edu/~jknobe/rorty
Saatkamp, Herman J., Jr. ed. Rorty & Pragmatism. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1995.
-----“Response to Hartshorne” by Richard Rorty, p. 29-36
-----“Philosophy and the Future” by Richard Rorty, p. 197-205
Stout, Jeffrey. The Flight From Authority. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981.
Toulmin, Stephen. Cosmopolis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.
Berlin, Isaiah. Concepts and Categories. ed. Henry Hardy. London: Pimlico, 1999.
-----“The Purpose of Philosophy” p. 1-11
Fish, Stanley. Doing What Comes Naturally. Durham: Duke University Press, 1989.
-----“Going Down the Anti-Formalist Road” p. 1-33
-----“Rhetoric” p. 471-502
Hollinger, Robert. ed. Hermeneutics and Praxis. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1985.
-----“Philosophy in the Conversation of Mankind” by Richard J. Bernstein, p. 54-86
-----“Epistemological Behaviorism and the De-Transcendentalization of Analytic Philosophy” by Richard Rorty, p. 89-121
McLean, George F. and Valerie Voorhies. eds. The Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, Volume XLI., 1967.
-----“Do Analysts and Metaphysicians Disagree?” by Richard Rorty, p. 39-53
Murdoch, Iris. The Sovereignty of Good. New York: Routledge Classics, 1971, 2001.
Norris, Christopher. Deconstruction: Theory and Practice. Rev. Ed. New York: Routledge, 1982, 1991.
West, Cornel. The American Evasion of Philosophy. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989.
Williams, Bernard. Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985.
Thanks, as always, goes to Horse, for without him my topical trash wouldn't have a home. He is the unseen force that allows all of us to exist as we do.
1 The genesis of this paper was in a post to the MoQ Discussion group at www.moq.org called “The Populist Persuasion.” Much of the introduction and Part I A are from that post and I should like to thank the other discussants on the MD for their comments on that earlier incarnation. I would like to especially thank Andy Bahn, Sam Norton, and Richard Budd for commenting on the penultimate version of this paper and saving me from, among other things, some tonal mistakes. Particular thanks goes to Rick for suggesting a change of title (along with the new title). Any horror generated by the ungodly word “philosophologology” should be directed towards him. It took me a while to pronounce it, but I think I got it (you have to let it dance over your tongue).
2 Michael Kazin writes that “the most basic and telling definition of populism [is] a language whose speakers conceive of ordinary people as a noble assemblage not bounded narrowly by class, view their elite opponents as self-serving … and seek to mobilize the former against the latter.” (The Populist Persuasion, p. 1)
3 In ZMM, Pirsig says, “Everything is an analogy,” (p. 399) and “Dialectic, which is the parent of logic, came itself from rhetoric.” (p. 401) Pirsig's claim for rhetoric is reinforced by his use of the mythos-over-logos argument, that logos, here a stand-in for dialectic, was created by the Greeks. The argument is that logos did not displace the mythos, but rather is simply part of the “ongoing mythos, transformed into logos but still mythos.” (p. 359)
4 Pirsig, Lila, p. 370
7 ibid., p. 137. Emphasis mine.
8 ibid., p. 370-1
9 Pirsig, ZMM, p. 380-4
10 Pirsig, Lila, p. 372
11 ibid., p. 371
12 See his “Letter to the Lila Squad”
13 Pirsig, Lila, p. 371
15 David Hall provides anecdotal evidence from his own classroom experience in teaching Rorty's later philosophy. “I was truly surprised to discover how accessible these [later] essays turned out to be to my students, many of whom were taking their first course in philosophy. I believe that this was so in part because the philosophically naïve are less likely to suffer from what Richard Bernstein calls ‘Cartesian Anxiety….' Ironically, therefore, the ‘nonphilosophical' … will find Rorty's message somewhat easier to grasp.” (Hall, Richard Rorty, p. 4) “Cartesian Anxiety” is Bernstein's name for the fear one experiences when faced with this “grand and seductive Either/Or” situation: “Either there is some support for our being, a fixed foundation for our knowledge, or we cannot escape the forces of darkness that envelop us with madness, with intellectual and moral chaos.” (Bernstein, Beyond Objectivism and Relativism, p. 18) This is the type of fear one might have after experiencing something analogous to the 17th Century's Skeptical Crisis or after reading the Discourse on Method.
16 As Stephen Toulmin says, Wittgenstein, Dewey, and Heidegger's critiques were aimed at a “‘theory-centered' style of philosophizing—i.e., one that poses problems, and seeks solutions, stated in timeless, universal terms—and it was just that philosophical style, whose charms were linked to the quest for certainty, that defined that agenda of ‘modern' philosophy, from 1650 on.” (Toumin, Cosmopolis, p. 11)
17 Whether Pirsig thinks he is speaking to eternity is a point he is ambiguous on. Pirsig's pragmatism comes through when, after Gennie tells him that he should write down all of his thoughts about philosophy, he says, “The trouble is that essays always have to sound like God talking for eternity, and that isn't the way it ever is. People should see that it's never anything other than just one person talking from one place in time and space and circumstance.” (ZMM, p. 172) Here Pirsig directly repudiates the style of writing that traditional philosophers have generally used, but while describing the opening and closing of routes through the “mountains of the spirit” Pirsig says, “But the fact that the old routes have tended, because of language rigidity, to lose their everyday meaning and become almost closed doesn't mean that the mountain is no longer there. It's there and will be there as long as consciousness exists.” (ibid., p. 188-9)
18 Rorty, “Keeping Philosophy Pure” in Consequences of Pragmatism, p. 31. “Study” is perhaps the wrong word, but as I suggested earlier, Pirsig seems to think we will encounter certain problems by reflecting on our general existence.
19 ibid., p. 32
20 DiSanto and Steele, Guidebook to ZMM, p. 135. I believe Pirsig having a notion of philosophy as a wide but natural thing is what leads DiSanto to write “philosophical thinking flows freely wherever the desire to understand and the questions generated by that desire take it. It does not come prepackaged, compartmentalized.” (ibid.) He says, “dividing philosophy into compartments is rather an arbitrary task. Nothing in the nature of humanity requires that it be done at all, and nothing in the nature of philosophy or the nature of talk about philosophy requires that it done in exactly this way.” (ibid., p. 134) That philosophy has a nature at all is what concerns the pragmatist.
21 Rorty, “Keeping Philosophy Pure,” p. 30
22 Rorty, “Pragmatism and Philosophy” in Consequences of Pragmatism, p. xxx
23 Alasdair MacIntyre says, “it was Vico who first stressed the importance of the undeniable fact … that the subject matters of moral philosophy at least—the evaluative and normative concepts, maxims, arguments and judgments about which the moral philosopher enquires—are nowhere to be found except as embodied in the historical lives of particular social groups and so possessing the distinctive characteristics of historical existence: both identity and change through time, expression in institutionalized practice as well as in discourse, interaction and interrelationship with a variety of forms of activity.” (After Virtue, p. 265) Rorty generalizes this same point to the subject material of philosophy in general.
24 For some problems in resolving this difference between the traditional argumentative philosopher and the pragmatist, and Pirsig's partial agreement with the pragmatist, see my “Confessions of a Fallen Priest,” section two.
25 “it is absolutely, scientifically moral for a doctor to prefer a patient. ... We're at last dealing with morals on the basis of reason. We can now deduce codes based on evolution that analyze moral arguments with greater precision than before.” (Lila, p. 183)
26 After John asks Pirsig why anybody believes in the law of gravity, Pirsig responds flippantly, “Mass hypnosis. In a very orthodox form known as ‘education.'” (ZMM, p. 35) Pirsig is here pausing during a sequence of some of his most explicit pragmatic philosophy. Given the tone of his later ruminations on education, the fluidness of real, genuine education, I think him calling it “mass hypnosis” punches up his frustration with the state of education as static, Ps and Qs memorization.
27 At the beginning of the Church of Reason lecture, Pirsig briefly laments the state of lesser state schools, “teaching colleges,” where “the reason you teach and teach and teach is that this is a very clever way of running a college on the cheap while giving a false appearance of genuine education.” (ibid., p. 145) From here Pirsig launches into his description of the Church of Reason, the point of which is to dissociate the university that pays salaries and owns buildings from the real University, “that great heritage of rational thought.” (ibid., p. 148)
28 In taking Pirsig's description of the creation of Phaedrus as autobiographical of Pirsig himself, I take into full consciousness Pirsig's note at the beginning of ZMM that “what follows is based on actual occurrences. Although much has been changed for rhetorical purposes, it must be regarded in its essence as fact.” This makes it difficult to simply assume that what is described in the pages I discuss is autobiographical, something that won't be corrected very much in some future, yet-to-be-written biography. However, historical accuracy is actually less important to my discussion than is pinpointing how Pirsig thinks of those events, how Pirsig narrates those episodes of his life to himself. In this case, a semiautobiographical account full of rhetorical smudges is actually better to have because it gives us a keen insight into Pirsig's mind. Further, I also take into full account that Phaedrus is different from the narrator of ZMM and that both are possibly different from Pirsig himself (even the Phaedrus of Lila). On the surface, this might also complicate my narrative, but Phaedrus is Pirsig's philosophical double, the purified version of himself that puts forward the philosophical theses that Pirsig wishes him to. There isn't room enough in this paper to go into the issue, but as I suggested in my “Confessions of a Fallen Priest,” the narrator and Phaedrus can be taken as two different philosophical archetypes, the narrator being the pragmatist and Phaedrus being the traditional metaphysician. (n. 9) For my purposes here, Phaedrus in fact is my intended target, if not Pirsig, so a description of his progression, if not Pirsig's, is, again, better to have.
29 Stout, The Flight From Authority, p. 38-9
30 ibid., p. 40
31 ibid., p. 40-1. “Where probability is a matter of what the authorities approve, and the authorities no longer speak with one voice, it becomes anything but clear which opinions one should accept. This problem, which we may name ‘the problem of many authorities,' is the central social and intellectual difficulty of the Reformation.” (p. 41)
32 ibid., p. 40
33 Descartes, Essential Works of Descartes, p. 63
34 Pirsig, ZMM, p. 111-2
35 ibid., p. 112
38 Descartes, Essential Works of Descartes, p. 63
39 Bernstein, Beyond Objectivism and Relativism, p. 17
40 Pirsig, ZMM, p. 433
41 ibid., p. 123
42 ibid., p. 115
44 Pirsig, Lila, p. 126-32
45 Pirsig, ZMM, p. 119. This antiestablishment attitude can be seen to continue in Lila when Pirsig distinguishes between the social and intellectual levels of static patterns of quality and the self-preservation each level engages in, sometimes over and against the other levels. Cf., Pirsig's discussion of “the Giant,” Lila, p. 248-52.
46 Pirsig, ZMM, p. 127-8
47 ibid., p. 142
48 The “true minister's,” the professor's, “primary goal isn't to serve the members of the community, but always God.” (ibid., p. 149) Pirsig's negative attitude towards teaching is reflected earlier when he says, “The school was what could be euphemistically called a ‘teaching college.' At a teaching college you teach and teach and teach with no time for research, no time for contemplation, no time for participation in outside affairs…your mind grows dull and your creativity vanishes and you become an automaton saying the same dull things over and over again…this is a very clever way of running a college on the cheap while giving a false appearance of genuine education.” (ibid., p. 145) There isn't space enough here to go into Pirsig extraordinarily ambiguous relationship to education, established or otherwise, but to be fair to Pirsig, he is here, as I noted in fn. 23, bashing a deserving establishment. But if we oppose “teaching” to “research,” as Pirsig here does, it lines up with “community” and “God” in the Church of Reason lecture. This creates an underlying tension between Pirsig and teaching, as Pirsig's devotion to his students, the community, should be questioned.
49 ibid., p. xii
50 “Introduction” to Lila's Child
55 Pirsig, ZMM, p. 353. This isn't to pass judgment on McKeon himself, only to reflect Pirsig's judgment of him. Pirsig's relationship to McKeon is much more subtle than Pirsig lets on in the book, but it does have some bearing on the current problems. Pirsig's reaction to “philosophology” is, I think, in large part a personal reaction to McKeon. Unfortunately, that tangled web must be postponed for another time, for to do justice to it would take up at least as much space as this paper is currently already taking. Suffice it to say, Pirsig's reaction was partly to McKeon's philosophical project and partly to McKeon's personality. McKeon was a metatheoretical pluralist, an American tradition which aimed at creating taxonomies with which to “box” philosophies. This is clearly the theoretical practice Pirsig dislikes, but I should note here that I think Pirsig misunderstood McKeon's intention. McKeon's project was less a project of systematic classification and more a project of interpretive reading. In this understanding, McKeon differs little from Pirsig's own advice of first figuring out what you believe and then reading the great philosophers. (Lila, 372) Pirsig's reaction to McKeon's personality, on the other hand, is partially corroborated by Rorty's own reaction: “Much as I admired McKeon's immense learning and his synoptic imagination, it was hard to avoid the feeling that, in departmental and university politics, he threw his weight around too much.” (“Response to Hartshorne,” in Rorty & Pragmatism, p. 211 n. 1)
56 Pirsig, ZMM, p. 123
57 Pirsig, Lila, p. 371
58 Cavell, “An Audience for Philosophy,” in Must We Mean What We Say?, p. xxviii
59 Pirsig, Lila, p. 371
61 Rorty, “A Talent for Bricolage”
62 Pirsig, Lila, p. 183
63 Pirsig, “Subjects, Objects, Data, and Values,” p. 12
64 Pirsig, “Introduction” to Lila's Child
65 Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit, p. 43
66 Pirsig, ZMM, p. 360
67 ibid., p. 148
69 ibid., p. 120
70 ibid., p. 35 I discuss Pirsig's discourse on Western ghosts in relation to his handing in discovery metaphors for invention metaphors in my “Confessions of a Fallen Priest,” section 2.
71 Pirsig, Lila, p. 372
72 Rorty, “The Historiography of Philosophy,” in Truth and Progress, p. 258
73 Hegel, Philosophy of Right, p. 6
74 Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, p. 55
75 Neiman, Evil in Modern Thought, p. xix
76 Pirsig, “Introduction” to Lila's Child
77 Pirsig, “Letter to Paul Turner”
78 Pirsig, “Letter to Doug Renselle”
80 “The argument that the MOQ is not an intellectual formulation but some kind of other level is not clear to me.” (“Letter to Paul Turner”)
81 Pirsig, Lila, p. 185. I think there are significant problems with taking the individual as atomistic, which is how Pirsig seems to be arguing here and is not how I would argue. But that argument is beyond the scope of this paper. It is sufficient for what I am saying here to see that Pirsig does not think that the MoQ-as-intellectual-pattern can evolve by itself.
82 Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, p. 360
84 Pirsig, “Forward” to Zen Environment, p. 1-2
85 Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, p. 368
86 Toulmin, Cosmopolis, p. 10
87 Caputo, “The Thought of Being and the Conversation of Mankind: The Case of Heidegger and Rorty,” in Hermeneutics and Praxis, p. 252
88 The philosopher's “job is to weave together old beliefs and new beliefs, so that these beliefs can cooperate rather than interfere with one another. Like the engineer and the lawyer, the philosopher is useful in solving particular problems that arise in particular situations—situations in which the language of the past is in conflict with the needs of the future.” (Rorty, “Philosophy and the Future,” in Rorty & Pragmatism, p. 199)
89 Pirsig, “Introduction” to Lila's Child
90 Rorty, “Recent Metaphilosophy,” in Review of Metaphysics 15 (December 1961), p. 301
91 Pirsig, “Letter to Lila Squad”
92 Rorty, “Response to Bouveresse” in Rorty and His Critics, p. 150
93 Pirsig, “Letter to Lila Squad”
94 Pirsig, “Letter to Doug Renselle”
96 Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, p. 370
97 Cavell, “An Audience for Philosophy,” in Must We Mean What We Say?, p. xix
98 Rorty, “Response to Bouveresse,” p. 150
99 See the collection of reviews and essays included in the Guidebook to ZMM.
100 “As [Bodvar Skutvik] knows from his own efforts to advance the MOQ among European philosophers, the cultural resistance to the MOQ is enormous.” (“Letter to Doug Renselle”) Also see Pirsig's passage on “cultural immune systems” (Lila, p. 58) and “tin ear” (“Letter to Bodvar Skutvik”).
101 “So far he had pretty much ignored the philosophologists and they had pretty much returned the compliment.” (Lila, p. 372)