If my notes here have gotten a bit dismissive sounding, it’s largely to provide a counterweight to Dave’s discipleship. This is not to diss Dave (or Bo or other Pirsig fans posting on our board here), but my approach, and the approach I see in enthusiasts like Katie re. Foucault or Matt Evans did for Plato is yes, to try to figure how out to charitably elaborate and defend the view, but perhaps moreso to independently parse and critically appraise it: you pick it apart, test the limits, and see what remains. (Again, this is not to diss Dave, who I’m sure is seeing his role here as sharing his enthusiasm and trying to get more folks interested in Pirsig.)
While of course you want to get out of a reading every bit of richness you can (so as to make it worth your time to have read it), I’m extremely suspicious of anyone who focuses too exclusively on any one philosopher (for non-professional reasons; if you’re a Kant scholar, than of course you have some reason to get obsessed, though of course to be a good Kant scholar you’d need to really know your Hume and Leibniz and many others), whether it be Marx or Ayn Rand or Jesus or whomever. Genius is overrated… even great thinkers steal 90% of their ideas from their predecessors and contemporaries, and don’t necessary end up with the greatest versions of these ideas. The progress of ideas makes any one thinker to some extent instantly obsolete. Pirsig provides a fine model of a very smart guy thinking through things deeply to come to his own conclusions, but don’t think for a second that he invented the idea of overcoming subject-object dualism, which is one of dozen or so major themes pervading philosophical history in the 20th century (see Heidegger, for one, though arguably he was just following on to Hegel), and Pirsig’s account, taking up a whole two books of musings totaling something like 100 pages when you get rid of all the travelogue stuff, is just not going to be the most developed and comprehensive take on this however you slice it.
OK, enough with the general cautionary words to keep perspective, which no one in need of them is likely to listen to anyway. I wanted to recount here a part of Lila that struck me as a particularly stark example of casual overreach: pages 152 to 157. Here he explains how denying subject-object metaphysics solves a whole mass of traditional philosophical problems.
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