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Lila: An Inquiry into Morals [Paperback]

Robert Pirsig
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
Price: £7.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

14 Aug 2006
This new edition of "Lila: An Inquiry into Morals" is revised and expanded by Robert M. Pirsig, author of "Zen and the Art of the Motorcycle Maintenance". "Zen and the Art of the Motorcycle Maintenance", Robert M. Pirsig's worldwide bestseller, holds a unique and unforgettable place in modern Western literature. Now in "Lila", he brings us a new voyage, a poignant journey and a passionate philosophical exploration. Phaedrus - a character familiar to readers of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" - is sailing down the Hudson River when he meets Lila Blewitt, an unapologetically sexual, psychologically unstable woman whom a mutual friend warns him against. But Phaedrus is drawn to her physically, and interested in her intellectually, finding her "a culture of one" in whom he discerns an unexpected "Quality". Sailing with him to Manhattan, where her mental state deteriorates further, Lila prompts Phaedrus to explore conflicts of values, such as those between Native Americans and Europeans, or between the insane and the normal. Finally, after years of struggling, he formulates his "Metaphysics of Quality", which offer a system of understanding - and evaluating - actions according to a hierarchy of four evolutionary realms (natural, biological, social and intellectual). Lila remains elusive to Phaedrus' penetrating intellect, and her destiny remains a mystery, but Pirsig's wide-ranging philosophical explorations will provoke and engage readers in the memorable experience of pursuing the journey started by Pirsig in the 1970s to its final end.

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Lila: An Inquiry into Morals + Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: 25th Anniversary Edition
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Product details

  • Paperback: 476 pages
  • Publisher: Alma Books Ltd; Revised edition edition (14 Aug 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846880114
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846880117
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert M. Pirsig was born in 1928 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He holds degrees in chemistry, philosophy, and journalism and also studied Oriental philosophy at Benares Hindu University in India. He is the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila.

Product Description


'No question that Pirsig is a writer of high integrity and intelligence' -- Guardian

'A book that both concentrates and releases the mind, brings the attention down to one point and sends it scattering...' -- Financial Times

'The voice of the narrator carries some of the folksy weight and salty wisdom of a Mark Twain' -- Sunday Times

'A book that both concentrates and releases the mind, brings the attention down to one point and sends it scattering...' -- Financial Times

'No question that Pirsig is a writer of high integrity and intelligence' -- The Guardian

'The voice of the narrator carries some of the folksy weight and salty wisdom of a Mark Twain' -- Sunday Times

'This is a book I'll come back to and read again... another one to be grateful for' -- Scotsman

From the Author

'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was like a first child. Maybe that will always be the best-loved one. But this second child is the bright one. I think a lot of people will argue with some of the ideas in Lila. There may be controversy. But if people are still reading these two books a hundred years from now, I predict Lila will be the one they consider the more important' Robert M. Pirsig

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not quite Zen but getting there 30 May 2007
By Moz
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This twist on the way we see reality, thinly disguised as a journey down the Hudson River with an amoral woman (although a lot hangs on whether or not she is amoral ) is absorbing. His investigation of her is both intellectual and biological. This is told against a background of Native American culture v the European view complete with hallucinogens and teepees. It is, of course, a continuation of Pirsig's unique perspective on Quality (his capitalisation not mine) as started in "Zen and the Art".
Phaedrus rides again. While the characters are fascinating it is the narrator who really capture your interest - more hang ups than Bowie's wardrobe. His take on Quality is quirky and, while I get much of it, other chunks just don't quite hang together for me. However, there are themes and ideas that seem so blatantly right that you have to consider all his assertions for nuggets of obscure truth. I only saw the end coming 'cause I counted the pages. Wow! Is this genius or flawed-genius? It's a good read\rant anyway and prods mercilessly at the grey matter.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Phaedrus reflects some more 10 Mar 2005
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is a sequel to Pirsig's famous Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, first published in 1974. Both books are technically novels; but in fact the thin story-line - the account of a journey - is the thread on which is strung a strenuous metaphysical investigation of ultimate reality. This investigation is couched in a ruminative, discursive and colloquial style which, given the difficulty of the subject matter, is easier to follow than would be a dry and austere academic presentation of the conclusions which Pirsig has reached. In Zen Pirsig managed to make this search by his central character, Phaedrus, read like a tense and rather desperate detective story, with no less than the sanity of the investigator being at stake - and Phaedrus does succumb for a while and has to spend a period in a mental hospital.
Lila again has Phaedrus as the central character, though this time he speaks in the third and not the first person singular, and he is presented as the author of the earlier book. This time he is travelling on a sailing boat instead of on a motor-cycle - and although at one point the sailing boat is used to underline the fact that he is a loner, it is not otherwise used as a trigger for an investigation into the nature of things as the motor-cycle had been used in the previous book. The tension and suspense of the first book is missing, and from that point of view Lila is less gripping than Zen was. The reason for this is not that Pirsig's narrative skills have deserted him, but that, whereas Zen had ended with Phaedrus' solution to the problem of what was the ultimate nature of reality, Lila merely works out some implications of this solution.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Zen by a long way 28 July 2000
By A Customer
This book is stunningly good. It goes much further than Zen and delves into the fundamental properties of Quality, opening up whole new vistas in your perception of the world. It is very well written, again taking the form of a journey (this time in a boat) interspersed with insightful passages on the book's main topics. Somehow this makes the book much easier to read than a "normal" philosophy book, giving you time to rest before the author continues down his personal river of enlightenment.I'm not entirely sure why Amazon only have a weird US version of this book when many bookshops have it in stock for a much more reasonable 7ukp or so.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling and witty book with vast scope 20 Nov 2007
More than enough for a lifetime's meditations...

Pirsig's book spans a phenomenal range of subject matter - biology, society, the Victorians, World War I, the hippie movement, intellectualism, celebrity culture, cities, capitalism, 'insanity', 'sanity' - and encapsulates the whole thing in a well-argued framework that shows how the otherwise vague terms of value and morals work apply to 'reality' in its broadest sense, and how the whole thing is totally relative. And it's an enlightening journey, and by no means stuffy or academic.

As a long-term student of Buddhism, the book provides a welcome and refreshing Western take on the subject (although Zen Buddhism is only a very small part of the book's scope), showing how Buddhist values are just as important in the development of Western society and thinking, albeit 'filtered out' of mainstream conscious.

I would highly recommend LILA to anyone who likes to think about what they're reading. It's not essential to read "Zen and the Arts of Motorcycle Maintenance" in advance of approaching this book, but it does give a good introduction to the concepts on show.

This is a compelling and witty book with vast scope, that celebrates the diversity of consciousness, whilst audaciously trying to capture the breadth of human achievement and thought within a framework that is more open and persuasive than anything I've seen put forward before now.

The result is a book that celebrates humanity, rather than trying to diminish its achievements, and which deserve serious consideration by those that claim to decipher 'truth' - be they philosophers, advocates for religion, anthropologists or scientists.

One of the most thought-provoking books out there - timely, and even more radical and far-reaching than Pirsig's first book in its implications for humanity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
This book isn't as universally attractive as "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance". It must be hard to follow up with another gem after creating a classic, but Lila... Read more
Published 2 months ago by knowingman
4.0 out of 5 stars An issue with amazon re: Lila
Why can we preview the Kindle book, not the print (fine), but there is no option to buy the book on Kindle, because it apparently has not been digitised yet? Read more
Published 3 months ago by Anna Sirén
1.0 out of 5 stars The punch line to the best joke ever told.
Pirsig suggests that Quality causes all your thoughts.
All your thoughts are caused by Quality.

In this book, Pirsig thinks about what Quality is. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Squonk
1.0 out of 5 stars THE WORST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ
Primary school 'philosophy', ignorant ramblings and pejudices, egotistical, narcissistic, rubbish written by a self-centred attention-seeker with serious mental health... Read more
Published 6 months ago by MR D S J HENDERSON
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Enjoyable read that makes you keep turning the pages with an imaginative style of writing, the only disappointment was the ending.
Published 9 months ago by Gerald Holdway
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inquiry into Morals
When your son dies because he is killed in an accidental crime, your life will never be the same again. Read more
Published 11 months ago by JHvW
5.0 out of 5 stars Lila - an explanation that fits the data....beautifully
Lila is the natural extension and continued exploration of the metaphysical concepts first discussed in Zen and the Art... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Mr Rob Legge
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything from Pirsig in one.
This book contains everything from Pirsig in one go. “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” was only a preparation for the big thing.
Published 12 months ago by Borislav Naydenov
5.0 out of 5 stars masterful
This is a fantastic follow up to his previous work. I would even go as far as saying its better than Zen!!!
Published 23 months ago by Kap's
5.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read but a great book
I have read this book many times and bought as a present for a friend. May not be to everyone's tastes but it does touch on a number of [important] issues that are relevant to our... Read more
Published on 2 Aug 2011 by Andrew Hill
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