6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars
Makes You Think...., 14 Sept. 2010
I've just finished reading this book and although there are some really thought inspiring passages here, the central arguments leave me unconvinced.
Pirsig wants us to break with a western, scientific subject-object model of reality (where substance and energy is analysed and measured) and leave us with a metaphysics where the subject and object are less important and quality or value is automatically recognised. He starts his attack on western thought by criticising some anthropological studies of Native American Indians. The argument goes that the Native Americans can't really be understood by outsiders observing from a distance - you have to sit round the fire, smoke the pipe, engage with the rituals and this will lead to a deeper level of understanding of the native culture.
Of course this is true, but it shouldn't surprise anyone. If I wanted to understand ballet, it would be best to engage with it and start dancing, not read a text book on it and objectively measure the movement of the ballerinas. I can appreciate football more bacause I kicked a ball around the playground when I was a kid. I'm not going to analyse emotional human activities like these scientifically.
The argument continues that the quality/moral/value present in a system can either be static or dynamic. This will lead to stability where a high level of static quality is present or progress (& possibily instability) where dynamic quality is dominant.
So can we create a new metaphyics based entirely on quality, where quality is in fact all there is? I doubt it. Western science has already shown us how fitness & selection can transform individuals and species. And the same simple influences may be applied to ideas, society, law, art etc. i.e. I don't think there's anything new in what Pirsig is saying and Dawkins said it all more eloquently in The Selfish Gene.