Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Note on the English Admirers of Pirsig

In the initial essay, I noted that Pirsig had found a following in the UK. That website is http://www.moq.org/. In looking over the dates posted on the website, they don't seem to be that recent (for example, there are several entries from 2006).
There are several essays posted there, for example, this, "A Review of Dr. McWatt's Essay on the Metaphysics of Quality," and an Interview with Robert Pirsig with Julian Baggini of Philosophers Magazine Online. There are other assorted papers, postings, and discussion groups.
My general impression and comment is this: the very strengths which have led the English to admire Pirsig (their superior education and academic training) are the very qualities which seem to lead them more in the direction of academic (as contrasted with apocalyptic) commentary.
I think that the true import of the Metaphysics of Quality is in the apocalytic sphere (as characterized in my initial Essay and relating to the "truth-finding process") and not in any continuation of academic philosophy as we have known it.
We have reached a breaking point. I don't think Pirsig's English admirers quite get it.


Matt said...

I'm the author of the review you linked to above at moq.org, so I thought I'd comment on a few things. For one, the range of participants at moq.org in terms of nationality is fairly wide. It's probably at least equal proportion American/British, with a smattering of other non-Anglo-American backgrounds (I myself am American). The lifeblood of the website is the discussion group. As you noticed, the Essay Forum isn't used as often.

I haven't fully explored what you mean by "apocalyptic commentary," but I can tell you that my own style, which the review and the other essays I've contributed are in, is certainly more academic, which I don't make many apologies for. My sense of the participants at moq.org is that they don't much care for the academic style either, so I wouldn't fault people there too much. Two of my essays in the forum concentrate on Pirsig and philosophology, attempting to untangle various threads and problems (that I, at least, perceive), which I find related to distaste for academia: "Philosophologology" and the much shorter "Pirsig Institutionalized". In short, I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with professional philosophy, or academic writing, but there are many other kinds of things, and ways to write, than that.

I can appreciate your sense that Pirsig's import in not in "any continuation of academic philosophy." I don't really see Pirsig that way either, though we might have different reasons for thinking so. My most recent exposition of a different angle towards Pirsig is "What is Quality?" at my webpage, pirsigaffliction.blogspot.com.

Two other websites of note in relation to Pirsig are Anthony McWatt's (who sent a post into the discussion group drawing attention to your new site) and Ian Glendinning's (who's done yeoman's work in graphing a timeline of Pirsig's life). They also have many links to other Pirsig related materials.

Caryl said...

Thank you, Matt, for your comment and for the additional links. I have read your "Philosophology" essay of August 2004. I must admit we are on very different sides of the fence regarding Pirsig. I will post a response to it soon.

psybertron said...

Perhaps we British are simply a little more pragmatic about both the apocalyptic and the academic Caryl ? Though I have to say the pragmatic connection is very much US inspired.

I was going to ask you to explain, but I can see I will have to read your introductory "apocalytic" essay first.