This post contains excerpts from Robert Pirsig's book Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals.
The words are all his, the editing choices are all mine, the consequences of reading are all yours.
… 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 ancient Greece 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 … and huge organizational enterprises that bring in … millions of dollars … American Indians haven’t done this. Their way is not to be organized at all. 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.