Following is a kind of excerpt of Robert Pirsig’s book “Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals“. It is the lesser known sequel to the more famous “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance“. In the coming days I will post a followup on how this came to be.
Update: The excerpt is now available in PDF format.
If this has inspired you to get it, please click the image to go to Amazon just to acknowledge that you passed through here.
It is divided into sections of my choosing – the structure and their names are not a part of the book – they are a result of my process. The name I gave to each section represent a key idea (and a mnemonic device) that shimmered for me in each section.
Table of Contents:
- Indians & Anthropology
- Sitting on a Hot Stove
- Metaphysics of Quality
- Dynamic & Static
- Dynamic is Better , Static is Good too
- Evolution & Chemistry Professors
- Machine Language
- Better is Everything
- Morals – Ideas Kill Societies
- Sex & Me & We
- New York
- World War I
- Indians & Cowboys
- Facts & Culture
- Do You See the Light?
First you say things our way and then we’ll listen to you… an invisible wall of prejudice… a ‘cultural immune system’
Quality doesn’t have to be defined. You understand it without definition, ahead of definition…. it is a direct experience.. Quality is indivisible, undefinable and unknowable in the sense that there is a knower and a known, but a metaphysics must be divisible, definable and knowable .. it is a kid of dialectical definition.. this means that a “Metaphysics of Quality” is essentially a contradiction in terms, a logical absurdity …
he himself had insisted…that Quality cannot be defined. Yet here we was about to define it. Was this some kind of sell-out? …the minute u open ur mouth to say one thing about the nature of reality you..have a whole set of enemies who’ve said reality is something else … ‘Ahh, do it anyway, it’s interesting.’ this was the intellectual part that didn’t like undefined things … To the intellect, the process of defining Quality has a compulsive quality of its own.. produces a certain excitement … leaves a hangover
Writing a metaphysics is, in the strictest mystic sense, a degenerate activity … avoidance of degeneracy is a degeneracy of another sort … Purity identified ceases to be purity…objections to pollution are a form of pollution … The only person who doesn’t pollute the mystic reality of the world … is a person who hasn’t yet been born… The rest of us have to settle for something less pure … Getting drunk and picking up bar-ladies and writing metaphysics is a part of life
Any person of any philosophic persuasion who sits on a hot stove will verify without any intellectual argument whatsoever that he is in an undeniably low-quality situation; that the value of his predicament is negative. This low quality is not just a vague, woolly headed crypto-religious, metaphysical abstraction. It is an experience. It is not a judgment about an experience. It is not a description of experience… The value itself is an experience…It is verifiable by anyone who cares to do so. It is reproducible. Of all experience it is the least ambiguous, least mistakable there is… Later the person may generate some oaths to describe this low value, but the value will always come first, the oaths second.
…Our culture teaches us to think it is the hot stove that directly causes the oaths… that the low values are a property of the person. Not so. The value is between the stove and the oaths. Between the subject and the object lies the value. This value is more immediate, more directly sensed than any ‘self’ or ‘object’ to which it might be later assigned..more real than the stove … It is the primary empirical reality from which such things as stoves and heat and oaths and self are later intellectually constructed.
The reason values seem so woolly-headed to empiricists is … they keep trying to assign them to subjects or objects. You can’t do it. You get all mixed up because values don’t belong to either group. They are a separate category all their own. The Metaphysics of Quality would show how things become fabulously more coherent when..Quality is the primary empirical reality of the world.
The feeling left was one of enormous confusion and weariness, a kind of back-to-the-drawing board, back-to-square-one feeling … you get when you’re thinking you’re making great progress and then suddenly some question like this comes along .. and sets you back to where you started.”
For a while he had wondered why his boat always seemed to stop in the oldest part of each city it came to, and then he realized that … small boats stopping right there is what got the city started in the first place.
The idea that the world is comprised of nothing but moral values sounds impossible at first. Only objects are supposed to be real… but we see objects and subjects as reality for the same reason we see the world right side up although the lenses of our eyes actually … present it our brains upside down… The culture in which we live hands us a set of intellectual glasses to interpret experience with … and the concept of primacy of subjects and objects is built right into these glasses.
If someone sees things through a somewhat different set of glasses or, god help him, take his glasses off, the natural tendency of those who still have their glasses on is … to regard his statement as somewhat weird, if not actually crazy… As Einstein said, common-sense (non-weirdness) is just a bundle of prejudices acquired before the age of 18
The Metaphysics of Quality .. [says] that the values of art and morality and even religious-mysticism are verifiable [empirical] …They have been excluded because of the metaphysical assumption that all the universe is composed of subjects and objects … There is no empirical evidence for this assumption at all.It is just an assumption..that flies outrageously in the face of common experience.
Unlike subject-object metaphysics, the Metaphysics of Quality does not insist on a single inclusive truth… then one doesn’t seek the absolute “Truth”. One seeks instead the highest quality intellectual explanation of things with knowledge that if the past is any guide to the future this explanation must be taken provisionally.. until something better comes along … One can then examine intellectual realities the same way he examines paintings in an art gallery, not with an effort to find the “real” painting, but simply to enjoy and keep those that are of value.
..Saying that a Metaphysics of Quality is false and a subject-object metaphysics is true is like saying that rectangular coordinates are true and polar coordinates are false … A map with the north pole in the center is confusing at first .. but in the Arctic it’s the only map to have. Metaphysics of Quality provide a better set of coordinates with which to interpret the world..because it explains more of the world … and better … [it] can explain subject-object relationships beautifully..but a subject-objects metaphysics can’t explain values worth a damn.
This problem of trying to describe values in terms of substance has been a problem of a smaller container trying to contain a larger one. Value is not a subspecies of substance. Substance is a subspecies of value.
“Early zoologists classified as mammals those that suckle their young and as reptiles those that lay eggs … then a duck-billed platypus was discovered in Australia laying eggs like a perfect reptile and then,when they hatched,suckling the infant .. The discovery created quite a sensation. What a mystery! What a marvel of nature! … Even today you still see occasional articles in nature magazines asking ‘Why does this paradox of nature exist?’.
The answer is:it doesn’t. Platypi have been laying eggs and suckling their young for millions of years before zoologists declared it illegal. The real mystery is how mature, objective, trained scientific observers can blame their own goof on a poor innocent platypus.
In a subject-object classification of the world, Quality is in the same situation as that platypus. Because they can’t classify it, the experts have declared there is something wrong with it. And Quality isn’t the only such platypus … free will vs determinism, relation of mind to matter, discontinuity of matter at the subatomic level… are all monster platypi …
The world comes to us in an endless stream of puzzle pieces that we would like to think all fit together somehow, but that in fact never do. There are always some pieces like platypi that don’t fit.. we can ignore [them]..give them silly explanations … or we can take the whole puzzle apart and try other ways of assembling it that will include more of them
When one takes the whole ill-shaped, misfitting structure of a subject-object explained universe apart and puts it back together in a value-centered metaphysics, all kinds of orphaned puzzle pieces fit beautifully that never fit before.
Trying to create a perfect metaphysics is like trying to create the perfect chess opening, one that will win every time. You can’t do it.
… Dynamic Quality is the pre-intellectual cutting edge of reality, the source of all things, completely simple and always new… It’s only perceived good is freedom and it’s only perceived evil is static quality itself – any pattern of one-sided fixed value that tries to contain and kill the ongoing free force of life.
Static Quality emerges in the wake of Dynamic Quality. It is old and complex. It always contains a component of memory … Good is conformity to an established pattern of fixed values and value objects. Static morality is full of heroes and villains, loves and hatreds, carrots and sticks. It’s values don’t change by themselves. Unless they are altered by Dynamic Quality they say the same thing year after year… sometimes loudly… sometimes softly…always the same
..When the person who sits on the stove first discovers his low-quality situation, the front edge of his experience is dynamic. He does not think ‘This stove is hot’ and then make a rational decision to get off … a ‘dim perception of he knows not what’ gets him off dynamically. Later he generates static patterns of thought to explain the situation.
A subject-object metaphysics presume that this kind of Dynamic action without thought is rare and ignored it when possible. But mystic learning goes in the opposite direction and tries to hold to the ongoing Dynamic edge of all experience, both positive & negative … of the two kinds of students, those who study only subject-object science and those who study only meditative mysticism … it would be the mystic students who would get off the stove first. The purpose of mystic meditation is not to remove oneself from experience but to bring one’s self closer..by eliminating static attachments
…imagine that you walk down the street past a car where someone has the radio on and it plays a tune you’ve never heard before but which is so fantastically good it just stops you in your tracks. You listen until it’s done. Days later you remember exactly what the street looked like when you heard that music… store window, colors of cars, clouds in the sky… and it all comes back so vividly you wonder what song they were playing, so you wait until you hear it again…
One day it comes on the radio and you get the same feeling again.. you catch the name… rush to the store… and buy it… You get home. You play it. It’s really good. It doesn’t quite transform the room… but it’s really good. You play it again. Really good. You play it another time. Still good but you are not sure you want to play it again. But you play it again…it’s okay … you put it away … The next day you play it again, and it’s ok, but something is gone… you file it away and once in a while play it again for a friend …
What has happened?… has the song lost its quality? Either it’s good or it’s not good. If it’s good why don’t you play it? The first good that made you want to buy the record was Dynamic Quality… comes as a sort of surprise … weakened for a moment your existing static patterns in such a way that the Dynamic Quality all around you shone through. It was free … The second good,the kind that made u want to recommend it to a friend,even when you had lost your own enthusiasm for it is Static Quality.
Life can’t exist on dynamic quality alone. It has no staying power. To cling to [it] ..apart from any static patterns it to cling to chaos. Static patterns…provide a necessary stabilizing force to protect Dynamic progress from degeneration. Dynamic Quality – freedom..creates this world in which we live,Static Quality – order..preserves ourworld.Neither can survive without the other.
‘All life is a migration of static patterns of quality towards Dynamic Quality.’
.. In traditional, substance-centered metaphysics, life isn’t evolving toward anything. Life’s just an extension of the properties of atoms. It has to be that way because atoms and varying forms of energy are all there is. Historically..[this] put a strain on the Theory of Evolution … At the time of it’s origin is wasn’t yet understood that at the level of … small particles the laws of cause and effect no longer apply; that electrons and photons simply appear and disappear without individual predictability and without individual cause.
..So today we have a theory of evolution in which man is ruthlessly controlled by cause-and-effect laws of the universe …while the particles of his boy are not. The absurdity of this seems to be neglected. Physicists can ignore it..they are not concerned with man…Social scientists can ignore it because they are not concerned with subatomic particles …
evolution … goes into volumes about how the fittest survives but never once answers the question of why. It’s self-contradictory that life should survive. If life is strictly a result of the physical and chemical forces of nature … then why is life opposed to these same forces in it’s struggle to survive? Either life is with physical nature or it’s against it. If it’s with nature there’s nothing to survive. If it’s against physical nature then there must be something ..[else] ..motivating it.
The 2nd law of Thermodynamics states that all energy systems “run-down” like a clock and never rewind themselves. But life not only “runs-up”, converting low-energy sea-water, sunlight and air into high-energy chemicals, it keeps multiplying itself into more and better clocks that keep “running up” faster and faster.
Why, for example, should a group of simple, stable compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen struggle for billions of years to organize themselves into a professor of chemistry? What’s the motive? If we leave a chemistry professor out on a rock in the sun long enough the forces of nature will convert him into simple compounds. It’s a one-way reaction. No matter what … we can’t turn these compounds back into chemistry professor. Then why does nature reverse this process? What on earth causes the inorganic compounds to go the other way? It isn’t the suns energy.. It has to be something else. What is it?
Evolutionists … simpy say that in the scientific observation of the facts of the universe no goal or pattern have ever appeared… but has the question been taken up of whether life is heading away from mechanistic patterns? In a metaphysics in which static..patterns are..fundamental, the idea that life is evolving away from any laws.. doesn’t make any sense.
‘No program controlled or directed this progression. It was the result of spur of the moment decisions of natural selection.’ … Dynamic Quality always appears as ‘spur of the moment’. Where else could it appear? … Naturally there is no mechanism towards which life is heading. Mechanisms are the enemy of life. The more static and unyielding the mechanisms are, the more life works to evade them or overcome them.
The law of gravity … a ruthless static pattern … one could almost define life as..organized disobedience of [it] … birds fly, man goes all the way to the moon … If life is to be explained on the basis of physical laws, then the overwhelming evidence that life deliberately works around these laws cannot be ignored.
The reason atoms become chemistry professors has got to be that something in nature doesn’t like laws that restrict the molecule’s freedom. They only go along with laws of any kind because they have to, preferring an existence that does not follow any laws whatsoever. The patterns of life are constantly evolving towards something “better” then that which these laws have to offer.
Biological evolution can be seen as a process by which weak Dynamic forces at a subatomic level discover stratagems for overcoming huge static inorganic forces at a superatomic level…by selecting superatomic mechanisms in which anumber of options are so evenly balanced that a weak Dynamic force can tip the balance… their primary vehicle is carbon…
…. carbon [is] unique… the lightest and most active of the group IV atoms whose chemical bonding characteristics are ambiguous… The group containing carbon is half way between metals and nonmetals.. carbon combines with metals, nonmetals… itself… ..Carbon bonding was a balanced mechanism…[Dynamic subatomic forces] could steer to all sorts of freedom…by selecting bonding…variety…What distinguishes all the species of plants and animal is, in the final analysis, differences in the way carbon chooses to bond… the invention of Dynamic carbon bonding represents only one kind of evolutionary strategm… the other kind is preservation.
…A Dynamic advance is meaningless until it can be find some static pattern with which to protect itself from degeneration. …Evolution can’t be a continuous forward movement. It must be a process of ratchetlike steps in which there is a Dynamic movement forward up … then, if the result look successful, a static latching-on of the gain that has been made … the Dynamic force had to invent a carbon molecule that would preserve its limited Dynamic freedom from inorganic laws and at the same time resist deterioriation back to simple compounds of carbon again..Dynamic force got around this problem by inventing two molecules: a static molecule able to resist abrasion, heat, chemical attack and the like; and a Dynamic one able to … ‘try everything’ in the ways of chemical bonding.
The static, chemically ‘dead’ plasticlike molecule called protein, surrounds the dynamic one and prevents attack.. that would…destroy it. The Dynamic one, called DNA, reciprocates by telling the static one what to do, replacing [it] when it wears out, replacing itself even when it hasn’t worn out, and changing it’s own nature to overcome adverse conditions.
The division of all biological evolutionary patterns into a Dynamic function and a static function continues on up through higher levels… semipermeable cell walls to to let food in & keep poisons out is a static latch. So are..clothes, houses, villages, rituals, laws & libraries … On the other hand, the shift in cell reproduction from mitosis to meiosis to permit sexual choice and allow huge DNA diversification is a Dynamic advace. So are sexual choice, death.. communication, speculative thought, curiosit and art… in a value centered explanation of evolution [these] are close to the dynamic process itself…pulling ..life forwad to greater…freedom … Without Dynamic Quality an organism cannot grow. Without static qualiy the organism cannot last. Both are needed.
Now when we come to the chemistry professor…studying his empirically gathered data, trying to figure out what it means… this person makes more sense. He’s conducting his experiments for exactly the same purpose as the subatomic forces had when they first began to create him billions of years ago. He’s looking for information that will expand the static patterns of evolution itself ang give both greater versatility and greater stability against hostile static forces of nature. He may have personal motives such as ‘pure fun’, that is the Dynamic Quality of his work. But when he applies fir funding he will…tie his request to some branch of humanity’s overall evolutionary purpose.
…static patterns of value are divided into 4 systems: inorganic patterns, biological patterns, social patterns and intellectual patterns…That’s all there are..nothing is left out…Only Dynamic Quality, which cannot be described …is absent
…the four systems … all operate at the same time and in ways that are almost independent of each other … they are not continuous … Although each higher level is built on a lower one it is not an extension of that lower level. Quite the contrary.The higher level can often be seen to be in opposition to the lower level, dominating it, controlling it where possible for it’s own purposes.
…An excellent analogy to the independence of the levels is the relation of hardware to software in a computer … It isn’t necessary for a programmer to learn circuit design. Neither is it necessary for a hardware technician to learn programming … except for a memory map called the ‘Machine Language Instruction Repertoire’ – a list so small you could write it on a single page – the electronic circuits and the programs existing in the same computer at the same time have nothing whatsoever to do with each other
… Machine Language instructions were …the end performance of a whole symphony of switching operations… Then ..[in] programming this symphony was considered to be a mere single note in a whole other symphony that had no resemblance to the first one… Machine Language Instruction Repertoire was now the lowest element of the lowest level programming language … On top of this low level programming language was a high-level programming language which had the same kind of independence… and on top of the high-level language was still another level of patterns, the application, a novel perhaps in a word-processing program … one could spend all eternity probing the electrical patterns of that computer.. and never find that novel…Certainly the novel cannot exist in the computer without a parallel pattern of voltages to support it. But that does not mean that the novel is an expression or property of those voltages….It can reside in a notebook but it is not composed of or possessed by the ink&paper.
Trying to explain social moral patterns in terms of inorganic chemistry patterns is like trying to explain theplot of a word-processor novel in terms of a computer’s electronics. You can’t do it. You can see how the circuits make the novel possible, but they do not provide a plot. Similarly the biological patterns of life and the molecular patterns of organic chemistry have a “machine language” interface called DNA … but that does not mean that the carbon or hydrogen or oxygen atoms possess or guide life.
… Determinism is the philosophic doctrine that man,like all other objects in the universe,follows fixed scientific laws…without exception. Free Will is the scientific doctrine that man makes choices independent of the atoms of his body…This battle ["free will versus determinism"] has been a very long and very loud one because abdandonment of either position has devastating logical consequences.
In the Metaphysics of Quality this dilemma doesn’t come up.To the extent that one’s behavior is controlled by static patterns of quality it is without choice. But to the extent that one follows Dynamic Quality … one’s behavior is free … The Metaphysics of Qualiity says that if moral judegments are essentially assertions of value and if value is the fundamental ground-stuff of the world, then moral judgements are the fundamental ground-stuff of the world. The “Laws of Nature” are moral laws.
… it sounds peculiar at 1st … to say thath hydrogen and oxygen form water because it is moral to do so. But it is no less peculiar..than to say chemistry professors smoke pipes and go to movies because irresistible cause-and-effect forces of the universe force them do to it. In the past the logic has been that if chemostry professors are composed exclusively of atoms and if atoms follow only the law of cause & effect,then chemistry professors must follow the laws of cause and effect too. But this logic can be applied in a reverse direction …If chemistry professors excercise choice, and chemistry professors are composed exclusively of atoms, then it follows that atoms must excercise choice too. The difference between these two point of views is philosophic not scientific. The question of whether an electron does a certain thing because it has to or because it wants to is completely irrelevant to the data of what the electron does.
When inorganic patterns of reality create life the Metaphysics of Quality postulates that they’ve done so because it’s ‘better’ … – this ‘betterness’ … response to Dynamic Quality – is an elementary unit of ethics upon which all right and wrong can be based.
What the evolutionary structure of the Metaphysics of Quality says is that there is not just one moral system. There are many …. ‘laws of nature’ by which inorganic patterns triumph over chaos; … ‘law of the jungle’ where biology triumphs over the inorganic forces of starvation and death; there’s a morality where social patterns triumph over biology, ‘the law'; and there is intellectual morality, which is still struggling in its attempts to control society.
Each of these sets of moral codes is no more related to the other than novels are to flip-flops. What is today conventionally called ‘morality’ covers only … the social-biological code. In a subject-object metaphysics this single social-biological code is considered to be a minor ‘subjective’ physically nonexistent part of the universe. But in the Metaphysics of Quality all these sets of moral, plus another Dynamic Morality, are not only real, they are the whole thing.
‘It’s more moral for a doctor to kill a germ than to allow the germ to kill his patient’… the patient has moral precedence because he’s at a higher level of evolution … This is not just an arbitrary social convention… It’s true for all people and at all times…a moral pattern of reality as real as H2O. We’re at last dealing with morals on the basis of reason… analyze moral arguments with greater precision than before.
…vegetarianism … it’s scientifically immoral for everyone because animals are at a higher level of evolution, that is, more Dynamic, than are grains and fruits and vegetables… this moral principle only holds where there is an abundance of grains and fruit and vegetables. It would be immoral for Hindus not to eat their cows in a time of famine,since they would be killing human beings infavor of a lower organism.
Is it scientically moral for a society to kill a human being? An evolutionary morality would at first seem to say yes, a society has a right to murder people to prevent its own destruction. When the United States drafted troops for the Civil War everyone knew that innocent people would be murdered… an evolutionary morality argues that the North was right in pursuing that war because a nation is a higher form of evolution than a human body, and the principle of human equality is an even higher form than a nation.
When a society is not itself threatened, as in the execution of individual criminals, the issue becomes more complex … an evolutionary morality would argue that there is no moral justification for killing him. He is not even a defective unit of society. Whenever you kill a human being you are killing a source of thought… ideas take moral precedence over a society. They are at a higher level of evolution than social patterns of value. Just as it is more moral for a doctor to kill a germ than a patient, so it is more moral for an idea to kill a society than it is for a society to kill an idea.
… The strongest moral argument against capital punishment is that it weakens a society’s Dynamic capability… for change and evolution. It’s not the ‘nice’ guys who bring abour real social change… [they] look nice because they’re conforming. It’s the ‘bad’ guys, who only look nice 100 years later, that are the real Dynamic force in social evolution … static pattens that hold one level of organization together are often the same patterns that another level of organization must fight to maintain it’s own existence.
Morality is not a simple set of rules… it’s a very complex struggle of conflicting patterns of values. ‘Vice’ … is a conflict between biological quality and social quality… sex & booze & drugs & tobacco have a high biological quality… they feel good, but are harmful for social reasons. They take all your money. They break up your family. They threaten the stability of the community … this whole century’s been about … struggle between intellectual and social patterns. That’s the theme song of the 20th century.
Is society going to dominate intellect or is intellect going to dominate soceity? …Intellect is not an extension of society any more than society is an extension of biology. Intellect is going it’s own way, and in doing so is at war with society, seeking to subjugate society, to put society under lock and key. An evolutionary morality says it is moral for intellect to do so, but it also contains a warning: … an intellectual pattern that weakens and destroys the health of it’s social base also endanger it’s own stability.
The first intelligence out there in the cabin disliked him and still did. It was this second intelligence that had come in and made love… These cellular patterns have been lovers for millions of years and they aren’t about to be put off by these recent little intellectual patterns that know almost nothing about what is going on. The cells want immortality … which is why they make such a commotion. They are so old. They began to distinguish [these bodies]…more than a billion years ago…of course they pay no attention 2 mind patterns. The mind sitting detached, aloof and discerning is suddenly rudely shoved aside by this other intelligence which is stronger than its own. Then strange things happen that the mind sees as vulgar and shunnable.
The language of mental intelligence has nothing to say to the cells directly. They don’t understand it. The language of the cells has nothing to say to the mind directly. It doesn’t speak that language either. They are completely separate patterns. The language we’ve inherited confuses this… ‘my’ body and ‘your’ body … it isn’t that way.
That’s like a FORTRAN [computer programming language] program saying, ‘this is my computer’.
This … ‘Me’ … who sits behind our eyeballs looking out … to pass judgment on the affairs of the world, is just completely ridiculous. This… ‘Me’ is a software reality not a hardware reality. This body on the left and this body on the right are running variations of the same program, the same ‘Me’ which doesn’t belong to either of them… This program based on ‘Me’s’ and ‘We’s’ is the alien. ‘We’ has only been here for a few thousand years or so. But these bodies that ‘We’ has taken over were around for ten times that … and the cells – my God, the cells have been around for thousands of times that long.
These… bodies that ‘We’ has invaded… every once in a while they overthrow the program and go about their ways leaving ‘We’ mystified… and somewhat horrified too at the things bodies do without its permission. These cells make sweat and snot and phlegm. They belch and bleed and fuck and fart and piss and shit and vomit and squeeze out more bodies just like themselves all covered with blood and placental slime that grow and squeeze out more bodies, on and on.
‘We’,the software reality,find these hardware facts so distressing that it covers them with euphemisms & clothes & toilets & medical secrecy. The cells have gotten to their advanced state of evolution through all this fucking and farting and pissing and shitting. That’s quality! Particulary the sexual functions. From the cell’s point of view sex is pure Dynamic Quality, the highest Good of all … Talk about ingratitude. These bodies would still be a bunch of dumb bacteria if it hadn’t been for sexual quality. That’s who lay here beside him tonight: a judge of hundreds of millions of years…& in the eyes of this judge he was nobody very important…
His own cells were sick of all this intellectualizing…They’d had way too much … and were starting to switch him off. Tomorrow they’d need him when they got hungry, and they would turm him on again to find some food, but for now they were rubbing him out.”
The metaphysics of substance makes it difficult to see the Giant. It makes it customary to think of a city like New York as a ‘work of man’, but what man invented it? What group of men invented it? Who sat around and thought up how it should all go together? If ‘man’ invented societies and cities, why are all societies and cities so repressive of ‘man’?
A metaphysics of substance makes us think that all evolution stops with the highest evolved substance, the physical body of man. It makes us think that cities and societies and thought structures are all subordinate creations of this physical body of man. Bit it’s as foolish to think of a city or a society as created by human bodies as it is to think of human bodies as a creation of the cells, or to think of cells as created by protein and DNA molecules, or to think of DNA as created by carbon and other inorganic atoms. If you follow that fallacy long enough you come out with the conclusion that individual electrons contain the intelligence needed to build New York City all by themselves. Absurd.
If it’s possible to imagine two red blood cells sitting side by side asking, ‘will there ever be a higher form of evolution than us?” and looking around and seeing nothing there, deciding there isn’t, then you can imagine the ridiculousness of two people walking down a street of Manhattan asking if there will be any form of evoluion higher than ‘man’, meaning biological man.
Biological man doesn’t invent cities of societies any more than pigs and chickens invent the farmer that feeds them. The force of evolutionary creation isn’t contained by substance. Substance is just one kind of static pattern left behind the creative force. This city is a higher pattern than either a substance or a biological pattern called man. Just as a farmer raises cows four the sole purpose of devouring them, this pattern grows living human bodies four the sole purpose of devouring them.
That is what the Giant really does. It converts accumulated biological energy into forms that serve itself. When societies and cultures and cities are seen [this way] the phenomena of war & genocide & all the other forms of human exploitation become more intelligble. ‘Mankind’ has never been interested in getting itself killed. But the superorganism, the Giant, who is a pattern of values superimposed on top of biological human bodies, doesn’t mind losing a few bodies to protect his greater interests.
Once you understand something well enough, you don’t need to run from it. From a Metaphysics of Quality point of view this devouring of human bodies is a moral activity because it’s more moral for a social pattern to devour a biological pattern than for a biological pattern to devour a social pattern. A social pattern is a higher form of evolution. This city, in it’s endless devouring of human bodies, was creating something better than any biological organism could achieve by itself. Sure: dirty, noisy, rude, dangerous, expensive. Always has been and probably always will be … if you’re looking for stability and serenity, go to a cemetery, don’t come here! This is the most Dynamic place on earth!
It’s ironic that although the philosophy of science leaves no room for any undefined Dynamic activity, it’s sciences unique organization for the handling of the Dynamic that gives it is superiority. Science superseded old religious forms, not because what it says is more true in any absolute sense… but because what it says is more Dynamic. If scientists had simply said Copernicus was right and Ptolemy was wrong without any willingness to further investigate the subject, then science would have simply become another minor religious creed.
Science always contains an eraser,a mechanism whereby new Dynamic insight could wipe out old static patterns w/out destroying science itself. That’s the whole thing: to obtain static and Dynamic Quality simultaneously. If you don’t have the static patterns of scientific knowledge to build upon you’re back with the cave man. But if you don’t have the freedom to change those patterns you’re blocked from any further growth.
… political insitutions have improved throughout the centirues [due to] … a static-Dynamic combination: a king or constitution to preserve the static, and a parliament or jury that can act as a Dynamic eraser…a commentary on Robert’s Rules of Order: No minority has a right to block a majority from conducting the legal business of the organization. No majority has a right to prevent a minority from peacefully attempting to become a majority.
It seems as though any static mechanism that is open to Dynamic Quality must also be open to degeneracy..falling back to lower forms of quality … how do you tell the saviors from the degenerates? Particularly when they look alike, talk alike and break all the rules alike? When something new and Dynamic wants to come into the world it often looks lke hell, but it can get born in New York. It can happen.
This is one of the few places in the world where people don’t ask whether something’s been approved somewhere else. What you see you see in New York depends on your static patterns. What makes the city Dynamic is the way it always busts up … those patterns.
Sex and celebrity… there’s something obscene about the whole celebrity feeling.It’s that same feeling you get from sex magazines on newsstands … One part of you wants to get rid of the magazines; one part wants to take a look at them. There’s a conflict of two patterns of quality, social patterns and biological patterns. In celebrity it’s the same – except that the conflict is between social and intellectual patterns!
Celebrity is to social patterns as sex is to biological patterns … It looks and feels like pure Dynamic Quality for a while, but it isn’t … Celebrity is the Dynamic Quality that primitive social patterns once used to organize themselves … an organizing force of the whole social level of evolution. Without this … advanced complex human societies might be impossible.
… When you look back into the very first writing in the history of the western world… Babylon… they’re about celebrity: I, Hammurabi am the big wheel here. I have this many horses… concubines… slaves…oxen.. I am one of the greatest … kings there ever was … The Pyramids were celebrity devices. All the statues … palaces … robes … jewels of social authority: those are just celebrity devices. The feathers of the Indian headdress. Children being told they would be struck blind if they ever accidentally looked at the emperor. All the Sirs & Lords & Reverends & Doctors of European address … badges & trophies … promotions up the business ladder … election to ‘high office’… feuding and battling for prestire among academics and scientists… Celebrity.
Even a policeman’s uniform is a kind of celebrity… without celebrity nobody would take orders from anybody and there would be no way you could get the society to work… High school was really the place for celebrity… jocks out playing football… pom pom girls … You can measure the quality of a university by comparing the relative strengths of the celebrity patterns and the intellectual patterns. You never got rid of the celebrities, even at the best universities, but there the intellectuals could ignore them and be in a class by themselves.
… the Metaphysics of Quality says that movement upward from the social mirrors of celebrity is a moral movement from a lower form of evolution to a higher one. People should go that way if they can.
Intellect has its own patterns and goals that are as independent of society as society is independent of biology. Biology beat death billions of years ago. Society beat biology thousands of years ago. But intellect and society are still fighting it out, and that is they key to understanding of both the Victorians and the 20th century.
What distinguishes the pattern of values called Victorian from the post-World War 1 period that followed it is,according to the Metaphysics of Quality, a cataclysmic shift in levels of static value; an earthquake in values… of such enormous consequence that we … haven’t yet figured out what has happened to us … The 20th century collapse of morals is a consequence of it. Further consequences are on their way.
… Victorians were the last people to believe that patterns of intellect are subordinate to patterns of society. What held the Victorian pattern together was a social code. They called it morals, but really it was just a social code. As a code it was just like their ornamental cast-iron furniture: expensive looking, cheaply made, brittle, cold,and uncomfortable. The new culture that has emerged is the first in history to believe that patterns of society must be subordinate to patterns of intellect.
… The reason the Victorians sound so superficial and hypocritical to us today is because of this gulf in values … What we today call Victorian hypocrisy … was a virtuous effort to keep one’s thoughts within the limits of social propriety … The test of anything in the Victorian mind was,’Does society approve?”.. society was God … [they] feared scandal more than they feared disease.
.. It explains why Victorians so despised the frontier part of the American personality and went to ridiculous extremes to conceal it … It explains why the Victorians were so vehement in their loathing of Indians… ‘The only good Indian is a dead Indian’ … The idea of extermination of all Indians was not common before the 19th century. Victorians wanted to destroy ‘inferior’ [evil] societies … Colonialism, which before that time was an economic opportunity, became with Victorians a moral course, a ‘white man’s burden’…
But … once intellect has been let out of the bottle of social restraint, it is almost impossible to put it back in … and it is immoral to try. A society that tries to restrain the truth for it’s own purpose is a lower form of evolution than a truth that restrains society for it’s own purpose. Victorians repressed the truth whenever it seemed socially unacceptable, just as they repressed thoughts about the powdery horse manure dust that floated about them as they drove their carriages … They knew it was there… but didn’t consider it social proper to talk about it.
Because it was evil to speak the truth openly, their appartus for social self-correction became atrophied and paralyzed … Ultimately their minds became the same way… all avenues to any quality other than social quality were closed. And so this social base… helplessly drifted toward its own stupid self destruction …
toward the senseless murder of millions of its own children on the battlefields of World War I.
Where thy physical climate changes suddenly from high to low temperature … or … atmospheric pressure …the result is usually a storm. When the social climate changes from preposterous social restraint of all intellect to a relative abandonment fo all social patterns, the result is a hurricane of social forces. That hurricane is the history of the 20th century.
…November 11, 1918…the end of World War 1…President Woodrow Wilson belonged in both worlds,Victorian society and the new intellectual world of the 20th century: the only university professor ever to be elected president of the United States. Before Wilson’s time academicians has been peripheral within the Victorian power structure…. intellectuals were not expected to run society itself. They were valued servants of society… Leadership was for practical, businesslike ‘men of affairs’.
The Victorians social system and … morality that led to World War 1 had portrayed war as an adventorous conflict between noble individuals engaged in the idealistic service of their country: a kind of extended knighthood. World Wart 1 wasn’t like that… The Gatling gun removed the nobility and heroism. The Victorian painters had never shown a battlefield of mud and shell holes and … half a million rotting corpses… that many had been murdered in one battle alone. Those who survived… felt bitter toward the society that could do that to them. They joined the faith that intellect must find some way out of old Victorian ‘nobility’ & ‘virtue’ into a more sane and intelligent world.
In an instant it seemed the snobish fashionable Victorian social world was gone. New technology fueled the change… shifting from agriculture to manufacturing. Electrification was shifting night into day and eliminating hundreds of drudgeries. Cars and highways were changing the speed with which people did things. Mass journalism had emerged. The mastery of all these new changes was no longer dominated by social skills… A horse could be mastered if your resolve was firm,your disposition pleasant and fear absent.The skills required were biological & social. But handling the new technology was something different. Personal biological & social qualities didn’t make any difference to machines. A whole population, cut loose physically by the new technology..was also cut adrift morally & psychologicallyfrom the static social patterns…No one knew what to do about the lostness… people raced from one fad to another… a chaos of social patterns only.
The events that excited people in the 20’s were events that dramatized the new dominance of intellect over society… abstract art, discordant music, Freudian psychoanalysis…contempt for alcohol prohibition…The test of what was good, of what had Quality, was no longer ‘Does it meet society’s approval?’ but ‘Does it meet the approval of out intellect?’.
The hurricane of social forces…was most strongly felt in Europe, particularly Germany where the effects of WWI were the most devastating. Communism & socialism, programs for intellectual control over society, were confronted by..fascism a program of social control of intellect. Nowhere were the intellectuals more intense in their determination to overthrow old order. Nowhere did the old order becomemore intent on finding ways to destory the excesses of the new intellectualism… a conflict of levels of evolution… explains that driving force behind Hitler not as an insane search for power but as an all consuming glorification of social authority and hatred of intellectualism. His anti-Semitism…[and] communists …was fueled by anti-intellectualism.
In the United States … Franklin Roosevelt & the New Deal… became the center of a lesser stormbetween social and intellectual forces… at the center of it all was the belief that intellectual planning by the government was necessary for society to regain its health… it was also a new deal for the intellectuals of America… for the 1st time they were at the center of the planning process…were in a position to give orders to America’s finest and oldest and wealthiest groups…
Suddenly, before the old Victorians’ eyes, a whole new social caste…of intellectual Brahmins,was being created above their own military and economic castes…Social snobbery was being replaced with intellectual snobbery…academic foundations were taking over the… country…. It was like the replacement of Indians by pioneers… too bad for the Indians but it was inevitable form of progress… from the idea that society is man’s highest achievement, the 20th century moved to the idea that intellect is man’s highest achievement…
The Ph.D. was on its way to becoming the ultimate social status symbol…academic fields were expanding into new undreamed-of territories … among the most rapidly expanding was… anthropology… [and it's] unassailable ‘objectivity’ had some very partisan cultural roots… it had been a political tool with which to defeat the Victorian’s and their system of social values… The Victorians…presumed all primitive societies were early forms of “Society” itself & were trying to grow into a complete ‘civilization’ like that of Victorian England.
The relativists… stated that there is no empirical scientific evidence for a ‘Society’ toward which all primitive societies are heading…[they] virtually wiped out the credibility of the older Victorian evolutionsists and gave to anthropology a shape it has had ever since… presented as a victory of scientific objectivity over unscientific prejudice, but the Metaphysics of Quality says deeper issues were involved…
intellect could now pass judgment on all forms of social custom… When people asked, ‘If no culture, including a Victorian culture, can say what is right and what is wron, then how can we ever know what is right and what is wrong?’ the answer was, ‘that’s easy.Intellectuals will tell you… what they say is absolute… because intellectuals follow science, which is objective.An objective observer does not have relative opinions because he is nowhere within the world he observes’ … An American anthropologist could no more embrace nonobjectivity thatn a Stalinist bureaucrat could play the stock market.
… the Metaphysics of Quality supports this dominance of intellect over society. It says intellect is a …more moral level than society. But having said this,the Metaphysics of Quality goes on to say that science, the intellectual pattern that has been appointed to take over society, has a defect in it… subject-object science has no provision for morals… is only concerned with facts. Morals have no objective reality. You can look through a microscope or telescope or oscilloscope for the rest of your life and you will never find a single moral. There aren’t anythere. They are all in your head. They exist only in your imagination.
From the perspective of subject-object science, the world is a completely purposeless, valueless place. There is no point in anything. Nothing is right and nothing is wrong. Everything just functions like machinery. There is nothing morally wrong because there are no morals. Now that intellect was in command of society for the 1st time in history,was this the intellectual pattern it was going to run society with?
The new intellectualism of the 20’s argued that if there are principles for right social conduct they are to be discovered by social experiment to see what produces the greatest satisfaction … of the greatest number. For example,drink that causes car accidents or loss of work or family problems is irrational…a vice. On the other hand,drinking is not irrational when it produces social… relaxation.
Of all the ‘vices’ none was more controversial than premarital and extramarital sex… It was expected that with the new application of reason, sex could be handled much like other commodities without the terrible tensions and frustrations of social repression… through out this century we have seen over and over again, that intellectuals weren’t blaming crime on man’s biological nature but on the social patterns that had repressed this biological nature…[believing] that this would be the cure of man’s criminal tendencies…
…intellectuals became excited about anthropology in the hope that the field would provide facts upon which to base new scientific rules… Here in this country, American Indians were suddenly revived as models of primitive communal virtue… ‘anthros’ … swarmed to huts and teepees and hogans of every tribe they could find,jockeying to be in on the great treasure hunt for new information about possible new moral indigenous American ways of life. This was illogical since, if subject-object science sees no morals anywhere, then no scientific study of any kind is going to fill the moral void left by the overthrow of Victorians society.
Intellectual permisiveness and destruction of social authority are no more scientific than Victorian discipline… this lapse in logic magically fit the thesis… that the American personality has two components, European and Indian. The moral values that were replacing the old European Victorian ones were the moral values of American Indians: kindness to children,maximum freedom, openness of speech, love of simplicity,affinity for nature. Without any real awareness of where the newmorals were coming from, the whole country was moving in a direction that if felt was right.
The western movie was another example of this change, showing Indian values which had become cowboy values which had become 20th century all-American values. Everyone knewthe cowboys of the silver screen had little to do with their actual counterparts, but it didn’t matter. It was the values, not the historical accuracy,that counted.
The drift away from European social values worked all right at first, and the 1st generation of the Victorians, benefiting from ingrained Victorian social habits seem to have been enormously liberated intellectually by the new freedom. But with the 2nd generation … problems began to emerge. Indian values are all right for an Indian style of life, but they don’t work so well in a complex technological society… An upbringing that allows the child to grow ‘naturally’ in the Indian fashion does not … guarantee the finest sort of urban adjustment.
…The world was no doubt in better shape intellectually and technologically but … the ‘quality’ of it was not good. There was no way you could say why this quality was no good. You just felt it … He remembered seeing The Glass Menagerie in which one edge of the stage had an arrow shaped neon sign flashing onand off… beneath the arrow was the word ‘PARADISE’, also flashing PARADISE> PARADISE> PARADISE> … But the Paradise was always somewhere pointed to, always somewhere else… Paradise was always at the end of some intellectual, technological ride, but you knew that when you got there paradise wouldn’t be there either.
… You had to be a rebel without a cause. The intellectuals had preempted all the causes. Causes were to the 20th century intellectuals as manners had been to Victorians… They had everything figured out… ‘pursuit of happiness’ seemed to have become like the pursuit of some scientifically created mechanical rabbit that moves ahead at whatever speed it is being pursued. If you ever did catch it for a few moments it had a peculiar synthetic, technological taste that made the pursuit seem senseless.
Everyone seemed to be guided by an ‘objective’, ‘scientific’ view of life that told each person that his essential self is his evolved material body. Ideas and societies are a component of brains, not the other way around. No two brains can merge physically,and therefore no two people can ever really communicate except … [for] sending messages back and forth.
A scientific, intellectual culture had become a culture of millions of isolated people living and dying in … psychic solitary confinement, unable to talk to one another, really, and unable to judge one another because scientifically speaking it is impossible to do so. Each invididual in his cell of isolation was told that no matter how hard he tried…his whole life is that of an animal that lives & dies… He could invent moral goals for himself, but they are just artificial inventions. Scientifically speaking he has no goals.
Sometime after the 20’s a secret loneliness, so penetrating and so encompassing that we are only beginning to realize the extent of it, descended upon the land. This scientific, psychiatric isolation and futility had become a far worse prison … than…Victorian ‘virtue’. They had lost some of their realness … living in some kind of movie saying … PARADISE> PARADISE> PARADISE>…
…[on] the doctrine that says ,’Science is not concerned with values. Science is concerned only with facts’ … the Metaphysics of Quality asks: which values is science unconcerned with? … A scientist may argue rationally that the moral question ‘Is it all right to murder your neighbor?” is not a scientific question.
But can he argue that the moral question, ‘Is it all right to fake your scientific data?’ is not a scientific question? … What the Metaphysics of Quality makes clear is that it is only social values and morals … that sciences is unconcerned with.
There are important historic reasons for this: … [to] the ancient Greek belief that thought is independent of society … ancient Greeks such as Socrates & Pythaguras paved the way for the fundamental principle behind science: that truth stands independently of social opinion. It is determined by direct observation & experiment, not by hearsay.
Religious authority always has attacked this principle as heresy… The defenders who fought to protect science from church control argued that science is not concerned with morals. Intellectuals would leave morals for the church to decide… But the Metaphysics of Quality makes clear is that this political battle …was in fact a moral battle. It was the battle of a higher, intellectual level of evolution to keep itself from being devoured by a lower, social level of evolution. Once this political battle is resolved, the Metaphysics ofQuality can then go back and re-ask the question, ‘Just exactly how independent is science, in fact, from society?’ The answer it gives is, ‘not at all’.
A science in which social patterns are of no account is as unreal and absurd as a society in which biological patterns are of no account … If the observer is totally objective and records only what he observes, then where does he observe a hypothesis?… Our scientific description of nature is always culturally derived. Nature tells us only what our culture predisposes us to hear … Descarte’s ‘I think therefore I am’ was a historically shattering declaration of independence of the intellectual … from the social… If Descartes had said ‘The 17th century culture exists, therefore I think, therefore I am’ he would have been correct.
The Metaphysics of Quality resolves the relationship between intellect and society, subject and object, mind and matter by embedding them all in a larger system of understanding. Objects are inorganic and biological values; Subjects are social and intellectual values … They have a matter-of-fact evolutionary relationship. That evolutionary relationship is also a moral one.
The intellect’s evolutionary purpose has never been to discover an ultimate meaning of the universe. That is a relatively recent fad. It’s historical purpose has been to help a society find food,detect danger, and defeat enemies. It can do this well or poorly, depending on the concepts it invents for this purpose … Knowledge has grown away from this historic purpose and become an end in itself, just as society has grown away from it’s original purpose of preserving physical human beings … and this growing away … towards greater Quality is a moral growth. But those original purposes are still there. And when things get lost … it is useful to remember that point of departure.
The Metaphysics of Quality suggests that the social chaos of the 20th century can be relieved by going back to this point of departure… Intellect can support static patterns of society without fear of domination by carefully distinguishing those moral issues that are social-biological from those that are intellectual-social… what’s at issue here … a clash of two entirely different codes of morals in which society is caught in the middle …
You have a society-vs.-biology cored of morals and… an intellect-vs.-society code of morals … In the battle of society against biolog, the new 20th century intellectuals have taken biology’s side. Society can handle biology alone by means of prisons & guns & police & the military. But when the intellectuals in control of society take biology’s side against society, then society is caught in a cross fire from which it has no protection.
… The Metaphysics of Quality says … what’s good in life isn’t defined by society or intellect or biology. What’s good is freedom from domination by any static pattern, but that freedom doesn’t have to be obtained by the destruction of the patterns themselves.
… The Hippie revolution of the 60’s was a moral revolution against both society and intellectuality … children of well-to-do … people of the world who suddenly turned upon their parents & schools & society with a hatred no one could have believed existed … The reason this movement has been so hard to understand is that “understanding” itself, static intellect, was it’s enemy. Whatever the intellectuals of the 20’s had fought to create,the flower children of the 60’s fought to destroy… Drugs that destroyed one’s ability to reason were almost a sacrament. Oriental religions such as Zen & Vedanta that promised release from the prison of intellect were taken up as gospel.
…By the end of the 60’s the intellectualism of the 20’s found itself in an impossible trap. If it continued to advocate more freedom from Victorian social restraint, all it would get was more Hippies. If, on the other hand, it advocated more constructive social conformity in opposition to the Hippies, all it would get was more Victorians, in the form of the reactionary right. This political whip-saw was invincible and cut down one of the last of the great intellectual liberal leaders of the New Deal period, Hubert Humphrey, the Democractic candidate for president … the great intellectual revolution of the first half of the 20th century, the dream of a ‘Great Society’ made humane by man’s intellect, was killed, hoist on its own petard of freedom from social constraint.
… this ‘Dynamic’ 60’s revolution made a disastrous mistake that destroyed it before it really got started. The Hippie rejection of social and intellectual patterns left just two directions to go: toward biological quality & toward Dynamic Quality. The revolutionaries of the 60’s thoughts that since both are antisocial & anti-intellectual…they must be the same. That was a mistake.
…When biological quality and Dynamic Quality are confused the result … [is] an extremely destructive form of degeneracy of the sort seen in the Manson murders, the Jonestown madness & the increase of crim and drug addiction throughout the country. In the early 70’s,as people began to see this, they dropped away from the movement and the Hippie revolution, like the intellectual revolution of the 20’s, became a moral rebellion that failed.
Today…the overall picture is one of moral movements gone bankrupt… the result has been a drop in both social and intellectual quality. The end of the 20th century in America seems to be an intellectual, social, and economic rust-belt, a whole society that has given up on Dynamic improvement and is slowly trying to slip back to Victorianism,the last static ratchet-latch. More Dynamic foreign cultures are overtaking it and actually invading it because it’s now incapable of competing. What’s coming out of the urban slums …[is] the oldbiological might-makes-right morality of prehistoric brigandage that primitive societies were set up to overcome.
…the Metaphysics of Quality says that what is meant by ‘human rights’ is usually the moral code of intellect-vs.-society, the moral right of intellect to be free of social control. Freedom of speech; freedom of assembly, of travel; government by consent… According to the Metaphysics of Quality these ‘human rights’ have not just a sentimental basis, but a rational, metaphysical basis. They are essential to the evolution of a higher level of life from a lower level of life. They are for real. But what the Metaphysics of Quality also makes clear is that this intellect-vs.-society code … is not the same as the society-vs.-biology codes of morals that go back to a prehistoric time. They are completely separate levels of morals. They should never be confused…
Is society good or is society evil? … in one level society is the higher evolutionary pattern and in the other it is the lower. Unless you separate these two levels of moral codes you get a paralyzing confusion…[that] dominates all thoughts about morality & society today … There are no chains more vicious than the chains of biological necessity into which every child is born. Society exists primarily to free people from these biological chains … has done that job so stunningly well intellectuals forget… and turn on it..with shameful ingratitude. [because of this] Today we are living in an intellectual and technologiical paradise and a moral and social nightmare.
… the 20th century intellectual faith in man’s basic goodness as spontaneous and natural is disastrously naive… a devastating fiction… cannibalism, not cooperation, was a pre-society norm… American Indians …ambushed & tortured [other tribes] … maybe it is man’s basic goodness which invented social institutions to repress this kind of biological savagery in the first place.
.. the Metaphysics of Quality concludes that the old Puritan & Victorian social codes should not be followed [or attacked] blindly… They should be dusted off and re-examined, fairly and impartially, to see what they were trying… and actually did accomplish towards building a stronger society. We must understand that when a society undermines intellectual freedom for its own purposes it is absolutely morally bad, but when it represses biological freedom for its own purposes it is absolutely morally good. These moral bads and goods are not just ‘customs’. They are as real as rocks and trees.
… the Metaphysics of Quality concludes that [the destructive sympathy by intellectuals toward lawlessness in the 60's] was really stupid … The idea that biological crimes can be ended by intellect alone, that you can talk crime to death, doesn’t work … The instrument of conversation between society & biology has always been a policeman or a soldier and hhis gun. All the laws of history…Constitutions & the Bills of Rights & Declarations of Independence are … instructions to the military & police.
…’racism’ … goes all the way back to square one, to the subject-object metaphysics wherein man is an object who possesses … culture… it goes on to reason that because it is immoral to speak against a people because of their genetic characteristics it is therefore also immoral to speak against a people because of their cultural characteristics … and Science says there is no morality outside of cultural morality, therefore any moral censorship of minority patterns of crime … is itself immoral. That is the paralysis…
… the Metaphysics of Quality says… that to say a cultural pattern is an integral part of a biological person is like saying the Lotus123 program is an integral part of an IBM computer. Not so. Cultures are not the source of all morals,only a limited set of morals. Cultures can be graded and judged morally according to their contribution to the evolution of life. A culture that supports the dominance of social values over biological values is an absolutely superior culture to one that does not, and a culture that supports the dominance of intellectual values over social values is absolutely superior to one that does not.
It is immoral to speak against a people because of the color of their skin, or any other genetic characteristic … But it is not immoral to speak against a person because of his cultural characteristics … these are changeable and they do matter … The fight to sustain social codes isn’t a war of blacks vs. whites… or poor people vs. rich … or…stupid people against intelligent … It’s a war of biology vs. society… and intellect, to end the paralysis of society, has to know whose side it is on, and support that side … Where biological values are undermining social values, intellectuals must identify social behavior… and support it all the way without restraint. Intellectuals must … limit and destroy destructive biological patterns with complete moral ruthlessness the way a doctor destroys germs.
No one wants to admit it, but that’s really the reason the insane get locked up. It’s not just that they have absurd ideas that no one else believes. What makes them ‘insane’ is that they have these ideas and are a nuisance to somebody else. The only thing that’s illegitimate is the cover-up, the pretense that you’re trying to help them by getting rid of them.
… As long as you’re stuck with the old conventions,insanity is going to be a ‘misunderstanding of the object by the subject’. The object is real, the subject is mistaken. The only problem is how to change the subject’s mind back to a correct comprehension … But with a Metaphysics of Quality the empirical experience … is an experience of value patterns produced by a number of sources…
When an insane person – or a hypnotized person or a person from a primitive culture, advances some explanation of the universe that is completely at odds with current scientific reality, we do not have to believe he has jumped off the end of the empirical world. He is just a person who is valuing intellectual patterns that, because they are outside the range of our own culture, we perceive to have very low quality. Some biological or social or Dynamicm force has altered his judgment of quality. It has caused him to filter out what we call normal cultural intellectual patterns just as ruthlessly as our culture filters out his. Obviously no culture wants its legal patterns violated…That’s what mental hospitals are partly for. And also heresy trials. They protect the culture from foreign ideas that if allowed to grow unchecked could destroy the culture itself.
… [he] had seen that the psychiatrists were … required to deal with insanity as cultural representatives… priests saving heretics. Psychiatrists seemed to fear the taint of insanity, much as inquisitors once feared succumbing to the devil. Psychiatrists were not allowed to practice psychiatry if they were insane. It was required that they literally did not know what they were talking about.
To this… they could counter that you don’t have to be infected with pneumonia in order to know how to cure it and you don’t have to be infected with insanity to know how to cure it either. But the rebutal to that goes to the core of the whole problem. Pneumonia is a biological pattern…scientifically variable. Insanity…is an intellectual pattern…it has no physical/biological reality. No scientific intrsument can be produced…to show who is insane and who is sane. The scientific laws of the universe are invented by sanity. There is no way by which sanity, using the instruments of its own creation, can measure that which is outside itself and its creations. Insanity isn’t an ‘object’ of observation. It’s an alteration of observation itself …
… Insanity always exists in relation to others. It is a social and intellecual deviation, not a biological deviation. The only test for insanity is conformity to a cultural status quo. That is why the psychiatric profession bears such a resemblance to the old preisthoods. Both use physical restraint and abuse as ways of enforcing the status quo.
That being said, it follows that the assignment of medical doctors to treat insanity is a misuse of their training….[they] are trained to look at things from an inorganic and biological perspective… their cures are biological:shock, drugs, lobotomies, and physical restraints … [he] had seen that if you want to get out of an insane asylum … is to persuade them that you fully understand that they know more than you do and that you are fully ready to accept their intellectual authority. That is how heretics keep from getting burned. They recant.
… In time this strategy has brought [him] enough smiles to get out. It made him less honest … more of a conformist … It wasn’t a happy solution, to always role-play with people he had once been honest with. It made it impossible to ever really share anything with them. Now he was more isolated than he had been in the insane asylum…
Now, years later, his resentment … had lessened…somebody has to deal with the degenerate forms of society and intellect. The thing to understand is that if you are going to reform society you don’t start with cops. And if you are going to reform intellect you don’t start with psychiatrists. If you don’t like our present social system or intellectual system the best thing you can do… is stay out of their way.
Anthropologists,when they are not being self-consciously ‘objective’, tend to be very interested in new things … Anthropologists see over & over again that insanity is culturally defined… each culture has different criteria for what constitutes it … Anthropologists found that schizophrenia is strongest among those whose ties with the cultural traditions are weakest … …psychoses, which are an extreme form of culture shock, emerge… because the cultural definition of values … has been changed…
… pshychiatry can’t really deal with all of this because it is pinioned to a subject-object truth system which declares that one particular intellectual pattern is real & all others are illusions. Psychiatry is forced to take this position in contradicition to history, which shows…that one era’s illusions become another era’s truth … [also] in contradiction to georaphy… one area’s truth are another area’s illusions … not only does insanity vary from culture to culture, but sanity itself also varies from culture 2 culture …
…in the psychiatric wards… what the patients showed wasn’t any one common characteristic but an absence of one. What was absent was the kind of standard social role-playing that ‘normal’ people get into …the insane see this role-playing & resent it … Your static value system filters out the undesirable opinions & preserves the desirable ones…it isnt just opinions that get filtered out. It’s also data.
We build up whole cultural intellectual patterns based on past ‘facts’ which are extremely selective. When a new fact comes in that does not fit the pattern we don’t throw out the pattern. We throw out the fact… a contradictory fact has to keep hammering…sometimes for centuries, before maybe one or two people will see it. And then these one or two have to start hammering on others for a long time before they see it too. Just as the biological immune system will destroy a life-saving skin graft with the same vigor with which it will fight pneumonia, so will a cultural immune system fight off a beneficial new kind of understanding with the same kind of vigor it uses to destroy crime.
… there’s nothing immoral in a culturenotbeing ready to accept something Dynamic. Static latching is necessary to sustain the gains the culture has made in the past. The solution is … to look for those factors that will make the new information acceptable: the keys.
The Dharmakaya light…a huge area of human experience cut off by cultural filtering … he didn’t think of this light as some sort of supernatural occurence that had no grounding in physical reality … nobody see’s it bcause the cultural definition of what is real and what is unreal filters out Dharmakaya light from 20th century American ‘reality’ just as surely as time is filtered out of Hopi reality, and green-yellow differences mean nothing to the Natchez.
…he thought that the light was nothing more than an involuntary widening of the iris of the eyes … makes things look brighter… but despite filtering by the cultural immune system, refernces to this occur in many places, scattered, disconnected and unrelated. Lamps are sometimes used as symbols of learning.Why should they be? A torch…symbol of idealistic inspiration… ‘I’ve seen the light’ … When a cartoonist want to show someone getting a great idea he puts an electric bulb over the character’s head. Everybody understands…Why?
In a Metaphysics of Quality…this light is important because it often appears associated with undefined auspiciousness … Dynamic Quality. It signals a Dynamic intrusion upon a static situation. When there is letting go of static patterns the light occurs. It is often accompanied by a feeling of relaxation because static patterns have been jarred loose… it was probably the light that infants see when their world is still fresh and whole,before consciousness differentiates it into patterns; a light into which everything fades at death … the breakup of static patterns of the person’s intellect as it returned into the pure Dynamic Quality from which it had emerged in infancy…
…when he had wandered freely outside the limits of cultural reality, this light had been a valued companion..
‘What makes people sane?’ … the way to really deal with insanity … is to turn the tables and talk about truth instead. If objects are the ultimate reality then there’s only one true intellectual construction of things: that which corresponds to the objective world.
But if truth is defined as a high-quality set of intellectual value patterns, then insanity can be defined as just a low-quality set of intellectual value patterns, and you get a whole different picture of it. When the culture asks ‘Why doesnt this person see things the way we do?” you can answer that he doesn’t see them because he doesn’t value them. He’s gone into illegal value patterns because the illegal patterns resolve value conflicts that the culture’s unable to handle.
… In a subject-object world trance and hypnosis are big time platypi. That’s why there’s this prejudice … They’re best nudged as close as possible to the empirical trash heap called ‘the occult’ … But since they do exist, what you have is an empirically observable case of empiricism being overthrown.
The irony is that there are times when the culture actually fosters trance and hypnosis to further its purposes. When you enter a movie theatre you know that all you are going to see is 24 shadows per second …an illusions of moving people & objects. Yet despite this knowledge you laugh when the 24 shadows per second tell jokes and cry when the shadows show actors faking death. You know they are an illusion yet you enter the illusion and become part of it and while the illusion is taking place you are not aware that it is an illusion. This is hypnosis. It is trance. It’s also a form of temporary insanity. But it’s also a powerful force for cultural reinforcement…
… in the case of permanent insanity the exists to the theater have been blocked, usually because of the knowledge that the show outside is so much worse … the insane person is running a private unapproved film which he happens to like better than the current cultural one. If you want him to run the film everyone else is seeing, the solution would be to find ways to prove to him that it would be valuable to do so.
Contrarians sometimes just seem to savagely attack every kind of static moral patern they can find… as though … a kind of revenge… The Cheyenne had a whole society of contrarians to assimilate the phenomenon within their social fabric… [they] rode their horses sitting backward, entered teepees backward…Members seemed to enter the contrary society when they felt a great wrong, a great injustice, had been done to them and apparently it was felt that this was a way of resolving the injustice.
…When u add a concept of ‘Dynamic Quality’ toa rational understanding of the world, you can add a lot to an understanding of contrarians. Some of them aren’t just being negative toward static moral patterns, they are actively pursuing a Dynamic goal … negative contrarian streaks … sometimes it’s a degenerative negativism…sometimes an ego pattern…sometimes a static pattern of it’s own …
But sometimes it’s Dynamic, where your whole being senses that the static situation is an enemy of life itself. That’s what drives the really creative people… the feeling that if they don’t break out of this jailhouse… they’re going to die. They’re way too energetic and aggressive to be decadent. They’re fighting for some kind of Dynamic freedom from the static patterns … It’s often confused with degeneracy but it’s actually a form of moral regeneration …
… in addition to the usual solutions to insanity – stay locked up or learn to conform – there was a third one, to reject all movies, private and cultural, and head for Dynamic Quality itself, which is no movie at all … evolution doesn’t take place only within societies, it takes place within individuals too…
Sometimes the insane & the contrarians & the ones who are closest to suicide are the most valuable people society has … They have taken the burdens of the culture onto themselves, and in their struggle … they’re solving problems for the culture as well.
Dynamic Quality is a higher moral order than scientific truth, and it is as immoral for philosophers of science to try to suppress Dynamic Quality as it is for church authorities to suppress scientific method. Dynamic value is an integral part of science. It is the cutting edge of scientific progress itself.
What’s wrong with insanity is that she’s outside any culture… a culture of one. That’s what had to be reconciled… At a hospital they’d just start shooting her full of drugs and tell her to adjust… they wouldn’t see … that she is adjusting …insanity is the adjustment…[it] isn’t necessarily a step in the wrong direction, it can be an intermediate step in the right direction … the problem of ‘curing’ an insane person is like the problem of ‘curing’ a moslem … or ‘curing’ communist …or ‘curing’ a republican … You’re not going to make progress by telling them how wrong they are… The important thing was to support her delusions and then slowly wean her away from them rather than fight them.
The catch here, that almost any philosopher would spot, is the word ‘delusion’. It’s always the other person who’s ‘deluded’ … Delusions can be held by whole groups… as long as we’re not a part of that group. If we’re a member…[they] become a ‘minority-opinion’ … A person isn’t considered insane if there are a number of people who believe the same way … then it’s a religion.
… It sounds quite blasphemous to put religion and insanity on an equal footing for comparison,but his point was… to illuminate insanity … The current subject-object point of view of religion, conventionally muted so as not to stir up the fanatics, is that religious mysticism and insanity are the same. Religious mysticism is one of those dellusions that isn’t called insane only because there are so many people involved…
The Metaphysics of Quality … says the subject-object people are almost right when they identify religious-mysticism with insanity… Both lunatics and mystics have freed themselves from the conventional static intellectual patterns of their culture. The only difference is that the lunatic has shifted over to a private static pattern of his own, whereas the mystic has abandoned all static patterns in favor of pure Dynamic Quality …
… as long as the psychiatric approach is encased within a subject-object metaphysical understanding it will always seek a patterned solution to insanity, never a mystic one… When Socrates says in one of his dialogues, ‘Our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness provided the madness is given us by divine gift’, the psychiatric profession doesn’t know what in the world he is talking about…
The Metaphysics of Quality suggests [there is another] solution to insanity… to dissolve all static patterns, both sand and insane and find the base of all reality, Dynamic Quality, that is independent of them all. The Metaphysics of Quality says that it is immoral for sane people to force cultural conformity by suppressing the Dynamic drives that produce insanity. Such oppression is a lower form of evolution trying to devour a higher one.
Once this theoretical structure is available, it offers solutions to some mysteries in the present treatment of the insane… For example… The value of shock treatment is not that it returns a lunatic to normal cultural patterns. It certainly does not do that. It’s value is that it destroys all patterns… cultural & private, and leaves the patient temporarily in a Dynamic state. All the shock does is duplicate the effects of hitting the patient over the head with a baseball bat. It simply knocks him senseless. In fact it was to imitate the effect of hitting someone over the head… without the risk of skull injury that Ugo Cerletti developed [it]
… but what goes unrecognized .. is the fact that this senseless unpatterened state is a valuable state of existence… psychiatrists of course don’t know what to do with it, and so the patient often slips back into lunacy and has to be knocked senseless again. But sometimes the patient, in a moment of Zen wisdom,sees the superficiality of both his own contrary patterns and the cultural patterns, sees that one gets him electrically clubbed … and the other sets him free from the institution … and thereupon makes a wise mystic decision to get the hell ouf of there by whatever avenue is available.
… Another mystery in the treatment of the insane …is the value of peace and quiet and isolation… Leave them alone… Ironically the one thing that the mental hospitals and doctors to best is the one thing they never take credit for… They know it works, but there’s no way of justifying that because the whole cultural set they have to operate in says that doing nothing is the same as doing something wrong… what sometimes occurs in an insane asylum but occurs deliberately in a mystic retreat is a natural human process called dhyana in sanskrit. In our culture … ambiguously called ‘meditation’.
Just as mystics traditionally seek monasteries and ashrams…so are the insane treated by isolation in places of relative calm and austerity and silence. The Western treatment of dhyana is a beautiful example of how the static patterns of a culture can make something not exist… People in this culture are hypnotized into thinking they do not meditate when in fact they do … boats… seaside cottages… lake cabins… hiking trails… golf courses… It’s the need for dhyana that is behind all these. Vacations too…how perfectly named that is… an emptying out…of all the static clutter…settling into an undefined sort of tranquility.
…sectarian religion was a static fallout from Dynamic Quality … none of them told the whole truth… There’s an adage that, ‘Nothing disturbs a bishop quite so much as the presence of a saint in the parish’ … The saint’s Dynamic understanding makes him unpredictable and uncontrollable but the bishop’s got a whole calendar of static ceremonies… In all religions bishops tend to gild Dynamic Quality …because their cultures require it … but these become like gold vines that cling to a tree, shut out its sunlight and eventually strangle it.
… once this integration occursand Dynamic Quality is identified with religious mysticism it produces an avalanche of information… a lot of this religious mysticisim is just low-grade ‘yelping about God’… but if you search for the sources… interesting things turn up … The logical order of things which the philosophers study is derived from ‘mythos’. The mythos is the social culture and the rhetoric which the culture must invent before philosophy becomes possible … Most of this old religious talk is nonsense, of course, but nonsense or not, it is the parent of our modern scientific talk.
… Digging back into ancient Greek history, to the time when this mythos-to-logos transition was taking place … the ancient rhetoricians of Greece, the Sophists, had taught what they called arete, which was a synonym for Quality … It is said that by following linguistic analysis you could go even further back into the mythos…
Ancient Greek wasn’t an original language. It was descended from a much earlier one … the Proto-Indo-European language … it has left no fragments but has been derived … from similarities between such languages as Sanskrit, Greek and English which have … a common prehistoric tongue … After thousands of years of separation from Greek & English the Hindi word for ‘mother’ is still ‘ma’. Yoga both looks like and is translated as ‘yoke’…. an Indian rajah’s title sounds like regent…
The Proto-Indo-European root of arete was the morpheme rt. There besides arete, was a treasure room of other derived ‘rt’ words: aristocrat, art, rhetoric, worth, rite, ritual, wright, right (handed), & right (correct)… All of these words except arithmetic seemed to have a vague thesaurus-like similarity to Quality… in aristocrat and arithmetic Rt meant first…in art and wright it seemed to mean ‘created’ and ‘of beauty’…’ritual’ suggested repetitive order… the word right has two meanings: ‘right-handed’ and ‘moral and esthetic correctness’…
When all these meanings were strung together a fuller picture of the rtmorpheme emerged. Rt referred to the ‘first, created, beautiful repetitive order of moral and esthetic correctness.’
… condemntation of left-handedness as ‘sinister’ is an almost universal anthropological characetristic… even today when legal oaths are taken … people shake hands …a president is inaugurated … it is mandatory that he raise his right hand. Prehistoric rt is still with us.
There was just one thing wrong with this… the meanings… suggested ‘importance’ … that was social and procedural and manufactured… Rt meant ‘quality’…but … static, not Dynamic… then his mind dredged up a word he hadn’t thought… of for a long time… Rta. Rta [sanskrit] was the ‘cosmic order of things’… the Sanskrit language was considered the most faithful to the Proto-Indo-European root…
Rta, from the oldest portion of the Rg Veda, which was the oldest known writing of the Indo-Aryan language… Varuna… was the chief support of rta … [a] ominiscent god …[of] unswerving adherance to high principles… The physical order of the universe is also the moral order of the universe. Rta is both… It was the oldest idea known to man.
Rta also meant ritual … a decay [during the Brahmanas Hindu period] of Dynamic Quality into static quality… then came the Upanisadic period &the flowering of Indian philosophy. Dynamic quality reemerged within the static patterns of Indian thought. Rta…almost ceased to be used in Sanskrit…but under the name of dharma [it] occupies a veryimportant place in the later Indian view of life …
The more usual meaning of dharma is religious merit…but it is sometimes used as a purely moral concept & stands for right/virtuous conduct.
Dharma is duty… not external duty which is arbitrarily imposed by others…neither internal…arbitrarily decided by 1’s own consciousness …Dharma is Quality itself, the principle of ‘rightness’ which gives structure and purpose to the evolution of all life … Within the Hindu tradition dharma is relative & dependent on the conditions of society… it is the bond which holds society together …
But within modern Buddhist thought dharma becomes the phenomenal world – the object of perception, thought or understanding. A chair, for example, is notcomposed of atoms of substance, it is composed of dharmas. This statement is absolute jabberwocky to a conventional subject-object metaphysics. How can a chair be composed of individual little moral orders? But if one applies the Metaphysics of Quality & sees that a chair is an inorganic static pattern and sees that all static patterns are composed of value and that value is synonymous with morality then it all begins to make sense.
…this was one answer…to why workmen in the Far East are able to maintain quality levels that compare so favorably to those in the West. If one comes from a cultural tradition where an electronic assembly is primarily a moral order rather than just a neutral pile of substance, it is easier to feel an ethical responsibility for doing good work on it… Oriental social cohesiveness … resulted from the working out, centuries ago, of the problem of dharma and the way…it combines freedom and ritual
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.
The Zen monk’s daily life is nothing but one ritual after another, hour after hour, day after day, all his life. They don’t tell hime to shatter those static patterns to discover the unwritten dharma. They want him to get those patterns perfect. The explanation for this contradiction is the belief that you do not free yourself from static patterns by fighting them with other contrary static patterns. That is …’bad karma chasing its tail’. You free yourself from static patterns by putting them to sleep… You master them… you get to used to them you completely forget them and they are gone. There in the center of the most monotonous boredom of static ritualistic patterns the Dynamic freedom is found … The danger has always been that the rituals, the static patterns are mistaken for what they merely represent and are allowed to destroy the Dynamic Quality they were originally intended to preserve …
If ritual always comes first & intellectual principles always come later, then ritual cannot always b a decadent corruption of intellect. Their sequence in history suggests that principles emerged from ritual, not the other way around… That is, we don’t perform religious rituals because we believe in God. We believe in God because we perform religious rituals.
From the static point of view the whole escape into Dynamic Quality seems like a death experience. It’s a movement from something to nothing. How can ‘nothing’ be any different from death? … Allthe Buddha could say was,’See for yourself’ …
… enlightment is distributed in all parts of the world… but some cultures accept it and others screen out recognition of it. The Metaphysics of Quality translated karma as ‘evolutionary garbage’ … the pain,the suffering that results from clinging to static patterns … the only exit from the suffering is to detach yourself from these static patterns, that is, to ‘kill’ them.
A common way taken to kill them is suicide, but suicide only kills biological patterns. That’s like destorying a computer because you can’t stand the program it is running… the social and intellectual patterns that caused the suicide have to be carried on by others. From an evolutionary point of view it’s really a backward and therefore immoral step.
Another immoral way of killing the static patterns is to pass the patterns to someone else … a ‘karma dump’ … you invent a devil group, Jews or blacksor whites or capitalists … then say that group is responsible for all your suffering. If you take all this karmic garbage and make yourself feel better by passing it on to others that’s normal. That’s the way the world works.
But if you manage to absorb it and not pass it on, that’s the highest moral conduct of all. That really advances everything, not just you … some of the great moral figures of history – Christ, Lincoln, Gandhi … that’s what they were really involved in, the cleansing of the world through the absorption of karmic garbage. They didn’t pass it on.
… Then he remembered when he had been walking down a dirt road…on the Northern Cheyenne reservation… with Dussenbery, John Wooden Leg, the tribe’s chief and a woman … they were all walking down the road … when one of those raggedy nondescript dogs that call Indian reservations home came onto the road and walked pleasantly in front of them.
… [the woman] asked John ‘What kind of dog is that?’. John thought about it and said, ‘That’s a good dog.’
…if he were looking for proof that ‘substance’ is a cultural heritage from an ancientGreece rather then an absolute reality, he should simply look at non-Greek-derived cultures. If the ‘reality’ of substance was missing… that would prove he was right …
the woman… wanted to know what genetic ,substantive pigeonhole of canine classification this object walking before them could be placed in. But John Wooden Leg never understood the question. He wasn’t joking when he said ‘That’s a good dog’. He probably thought she was worried the dog might bite her … John had distinguished the dog according to it’s Quality, rather then according to its substance. That indicated he considered Quality more important.
…American Indian mysticism is not something alien from American culture. It’s a deep submerged hidden root of it. Americans don’t have to go to the orient to learn what this mysticism stuff is about. It’s been right here in America all along. In the Orient they dress it up with rituals & incense & pagodas & chants…& huge organizational enterprises that bring in … millions of dollars … American Indians haven’t done this. Their way is not to be organized atall. They don’t charge anything, they don’t make a big fuss, and that’s what makes people underrate them.
… The Dakota Indian considers goodness to be a noun rather then an adjective. He will tell someone, ‘Take care of your goodness, rather than ‘Be Good’.
Good is a noun. That was it. Good as a noun rather than as an adjective is all the Metaphysics of Quality is about.