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Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance : an inquiry into values

by Robert M Pirsig

  Print book : Biography

The real premise (with all due respect to Mr. Larson)   (2009-08-18)


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by houpts

This book is not about classic and romantic or function and form.  Granted, these are topics that are discussed.  But the main thrust of the book is about how we understand things, the most important things, like who we truly are, that is, our true nature, beyond all delusions and ego, beyond the dualistic view of subject and object.  Pirsig gets at this by examining Quality, a term that changes meaning as the book progresses, ultimately coming to mean Reality itself, the true reality.  Along the way, values are discussed, the nature of rational thought and ways of approaching the ultimate Meaning are discussed.  First Quality is left undefined.  Then he attempts to define it.  He argues with Greek scholars.  He blames Aristotle and Plato for snuffing out the Sophists, who teach rhetoric and aspire to reach arete, excellence, which Pirsig says is the same as Quality, or Dharma, or the Tao.  He says that acceptance of the ideas of Aristotle and Plato have led to a dualistic mythos that carries on to the present day, resulting in technology that is lacking Quality because separation of subject and object lead to a lack of care.  Finally, Pirsig realizes he should have left Quality undefined, that it is in fact beyond definition.  He realizes the futility of rational thought in his quest for ultimate answers and gives up his intellectualizing, letting go of everything, all ideas and wants and desires, and in doing so reaches the core of his being.  He steps outside the mythos of his culture and looks bad in doing it and ends up getting electroshock therapy.  The culture pronounces him insane.  But he's not, and in the end he realizes it. 

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