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.

Table of Contents | How This Happened | Download PDF

Science

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 Science superseded old religious forms, not because what it says is more true in any absolute sense … but because what it says is more Dynamic.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 without 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 institutions have improved throughout the centuries [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 like 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.

“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.”