If there was anything in particular that 'primed' me to understand Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila aside from being raised the thoughtful, caring person I am. It would be a movie called 'Fight Club'.
For me, watching as a youthful Westerner - the ideas of Chuck Palahniuk were a revelation. Here was the idea that rather than finding freedom by running away from something, it could be found right here in front you.
Such thinking is supported by the MOQ and shown to be one of the two types of freedom discussed in the book Lila. That is; the freedom to be found running away from something which we're commonly used to, and the less commonly known freedom found by working through the pain of something right in front of you.
This was a freedom of the East which I knew little about - and now that I practice Zazen - still know nothing about it! :-)
"In the West progress seems to proceed by a series of spasms of alternating freedom and ritual. A revolution of freedom against old rituals produces a new order, which soon becomes another old ritual for the next generation to revolt against, on and on. In the Orient there are plenty of conflicts but historically this particular kind of conflict has not been as dominant. Phaedrus thought it was because dharma includes both static and Dynamic Quality without contradiction."
'Is it better to have wisdom or is it better to be attractive to the ladies?' That was a question debated by Provençal poets way back in the thirteenth century. (William James) Sidis opted for wisdom, but it seemed to Phaedrus there ought to be some way you could have both.
The question seemed to imply the stupidity of women but a feminist could turn it around and ask, 'Is it better to have wisdom or be attractive to men!' That's practically the theme song of the whole feminist movement. Although the feminists and the male Provençal poets would appear to be condemning the opposite sex, they are, in fact, both actually condemning the same thing: not men, not women, but static biological antagonism to social and intellectual Quality.
Robert Pirsig - Lila.
Finding myself recently single I have been thinking further about this line from Lila. "Pheadrus thought there ought to be some way you could have both". The Metaphysics Of Quality is a pragmatic philosophy. Pragmatic about quality. Quality is about balance. When we understand each of the levels of quality that create experience, and thus their importance, we can then live our lives in accordance with the balance of the universe.
So there is a way you can have both. There is nothing immoral about it. In fact, an appreciation of all kinds of quality is more honest and realistic than anything else. To deny this is to deny our billions of years of biological evolution.
It is only a problem when the worth or value of something is seen only through the lens of biological quality, and incorrectly devaluing social or intellectual quality as a result. This is immoral but the Metaphysics of Quality beautifully puts it all in perspective and shines the way forward.
Biological quality on its own is not immoral and something we can and should celebrate in a way that's in line with social and intellectual quality.
This, I think, is effectively what Gal Godot argued when describing the character Wonder Woman and her line of reasoning is logically supported by the MOQ!
"There are so many horrible things that are going on in the world, and this is what you’re protesting, seriously? When people argue that Wonder Woman should 'cover up,' I don’t quite get it. They say, 'If she’s smart and strong, she can’t also be sexy.' That’s not fair. Why can’t she be all of the above?"
What's better. A Metaphysics which has a glaring fault at its core, or one which has a beautiful foundation?
A fundamental assumption of our current Metaphysics is that it’s possible to be unbiased. Want to find the truth of a matter? Well then you need to be dispassionate, logical and unbiased. But what does that even mean? Is that even possible? Can we really have no bias? It might be uncomfortable to consider but thinking about this further; unless we can be dispassionate ’objective’ view-from-God all knowing beings then it quickly becomes apparent that indeed it’s not possible.
This is the insight provided by Psychologist and Cognitive Scientist Paul Bloom. In the video above Bloom points out how impossible it is to be unbiased and gives a few reasons why this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
For starters, in a typical ‘scientific’ Subject-Object Metaphysics way - Bloom links the importance of biases to our general survival.
“If we weren’t able to make guesses(prejudices) about new instances that we encounter we wouldn’t survive.” Paul Bloom
But then he takes the value of them a couple of steps further - firstly pointing out how our biases and emotional prejudices allow us to care for others. And then secondly how it's best if we use our intellect to expand our care for others, in a reasonable way, to those whom we may have never met.
In Bloom's writing, we can see lots of harmony with the Metaphysics of Quality. Bloom not only provides insight on the mistake of an over-reliance on biological emotions but rightly emphasizes the value of intellect in moral decision making.
What Bloom misses however, is that his statement about bias actually undercuts the philosophical foundations of our current Metaphysics. It would be a cruel irony indeed that in order for us to understand the truth of anything, we must be dispassionate, logical and unbiased when those biases are written into who we are as people.
But of course we do not have to suffer this irony. Rather than using a metaphysics which sees bias undercutting every human judgment, a better metaphysics to use is one which replaces bias with value. Taking this change in perspective changes no data but improves our understanding so that it's infinitely better.
It might seem strange - but this is actually why The Metaphysics of Quality supports Bloom's scholarship better than our current Metaphysics. Rather than cut into the foundation of our current metaphysics it is supporting the foundations of a value based metaphysics. In modern day language - it shows that our values are a feature, not a bug.
But all that said - does this mean that there is no such thing as a negative bias? No, low-quality biases and prejudices still exist. But within a Metaphysics of Quality - the source of those biases is correctly shown to be low-quality values that need to be questioned and not simply an objective 'mistake' to be corrected.