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 our world. Neither can survive without the other.
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 presumes 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 you want to recommend it to a friend,even when you had lost your own enthusiasm for it is Static Quality.
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.
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 to 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 provides 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.
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.