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Quantonic Questions & Answers

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Feb1999  How did Phædrus denigrate the practitioners of psychiatry and psychoanalysis? Why?

Clue:  "I am Phædrus, that is who I am, and they are going to destroy me for speaking the Truth." (~p. 369 of 373, ZMM, Bantam paperback.)

Unfortunately, we had no responses to this question. Sorry readers, you only have Doug's response to read, and here it is

Doug — Let's answer our question's 'why' part first:

Because they adhere teachings of great past SOM philosophers!

What about, "How?"

Here is a quote from one of Pirsig's favorite philosophers, Henri Poincaré, (ahray pwan-car-ay) speaking about mathematical science, and Poincaré's own conjecture on why so few people really grasp mathematics' essence:

    "If the science invokes only the rules of logic, those accepted by all well-informed minds, if its evidence is founded on principles that are common to all men, and that none but a madman would attempt to deny, how does it happen that there are so many people who are entirely impervious to it?" (Italicize Poincare's thelogos.)

    by Henri Poincaré, in Science and Method, p. 47, Thoemmes Press, 1996 reprint of his 1914 edition.

Poincaré, tongue in cheek, and broaching a topic of insanity in his, "none but a madman," queries quintessence of mathematical science's apparent esoterica to common folk. Answering Poincaré's question is a major philosophical exercise on its own, but for purposes of our own discussion here, we want to substitute 'psychoanalysis' for 'the science' in our quote's first line above. We want to substitute, 'only insane' for 'none but a madman.' We also want to paraphrase Poincaré's, "…principles that are common to all men…" with our own, "One Global Truth, or OGT." Paraphrased, our Poincaré quote reads thus:

    "If psychoanalysis invokes only the rules of logic, those accepted by all well-informed minds, if its evidence is founded on OGT, and that only insane would attempt to deny, how does it happen that there are so many people who are entirely impervious to it?"

Here we see Poincaré clearly enunciating a presumed foundational SOM philosophy while, as a SOM pretender, simultaneously declaring all who cannot accept it, "mad." Poincaré, in 1910-12, shows us in a single interrogative why most people in Western culture today, declare SOM, "…so obvious none can deny it." Note 1.

Indeed, if you deny SOM philosophy, you will be declared insane. If you are not in SOM, implicitly you are insane.

Phædrus asked a question, "How do psychoanalysts practice their discipline?" Allow us to paraphrase an answer to his own question with a single word, "Provincially."

He is saying to us (see quotes from ZMM and Lila below) if you are not in psychoanalysts' province, and what you think differs from their definition of what is correct thinking, then you are mad. You have to be mad else we may only conclude (assuming you are not mad): psychoanalysts are intrinsically inept, or mad themselves (but as Pirsig tells us, modern psychiatric practice insists that one who assesses insanity may not know experientially what it is — think about that...).

Phædrus reasoned that assessment of madness by any globally provincial assessor manifests incompetence by said assessor.

Psychologists and psychiatrists who live in SOMland declare, as Poincaré teased, there is but one domain (a classically objective mythos of past's great philosophers) for assessment of madness. Implication: they are intrinsically provincial. Their province is that classically objective mythos.

Without global province, independent SOM psychoanalysts surmise they might be unable to agree, or worse that others in their profession who do not share common province might suffer their own insanity. This exposes one defective rationale for SOM's edict of OGT.

From an MoQ philosophical perspective, SOM psychoanalysts who attempt global sanity assessment of a sentient being are insane for thinking they are qualified to do so. Choosing a standard domain with explicit intent of assessing others' sanity is more political than scientific. MoQ tells us our choice of a SOM philosophical foundation inures incompetence, hypocrisy, and violation of psychiatrists' Hippocratic oaths.

So you think Pirsig imposed a paradox here... Did he? No! Remember, SOM asserts a single domain of truth for all sentient beings. Propositional logic rules SOM's chosen domain which MoQites call OGT.

MoQ asserts there is no single domain of truth, no OGT, but many domains of value each with their own distinctive local truths. Pragmatically, we know Pirsig's MoQ is more correct (better) than SOM because we observe pan-experientially and pan-empirically many cultures, galaxies, people, etc. Each is a comtextually distinctive domain of local value. What we love most, MoQites' penchant pour pièce de résistance, quantum science agrees!

Pirsig simply warns us that while SOM rules Western culture, and MoQites choose to have different ideas, we may expect to be persecuted in that vast ISM-methodos-web SOM has spun over 2500 years to defend itself from its mendaciously contrived strawman: sophism. Worse, we may expect to be persecuted even if our ideas are better. SOM has been persecuting meme pioneers for millennia now. Examples are, Socrates, Hippasus, Jesus, Galileo, Loyola, Giordano Bruno (large page), Zuni Brujo, William James Sidis, Deming, Pirsig, et al. MoQites learn persecution's value: persecution is but one test of better. Pirsig shows us we must learn to savor it, for if our new memes are better, we will overcome persecution, even that borne on credentials of SOMitic psychoanalysis.

Conclusion: If psychoanalysts choose SOM as their philosophical foundation, they are choosing inherent ineptness in purely objective practice of their discipline. If one chooses a single province for all your assessments, you guarantee your own ineptness in contexts not of that province.

Were they not provincial could psychoanalysts agree on assessment of a sentient's sanity? Let's assume their foundational philosophy is MoQ. Then, yes, they could reach agreement. How? By accepting pragmatically that there are many contexts of truth and madness. They have to be able to move among those contexts and adaptively adopt local, provincial values for assessment.

I am disappointed we did not hear from more of you on this important question about Pirsig, insanity, and MoQ. After I worked on it awhile, I realized our question's scope is too big for any casual answer.


I studied ZMM and Lila to find many of Pirsig's own quotes on insanity. Much of my answer above derives from Pirsig's experiences, which you may read about in these quotes. See these two links, one to his ZMM quotes and the other to his Lila quotes on insanity:

Pirsig's ZMM Quotes on Insanity

Pirsig's Lila Quotes on Insanity

Note 1: See Pirsig's treatise on Poincaré in chapter 22 of ZMM. Poincaré explains there are many conventions — many truths — and to decide which is better is to select the one with the most value, i.e., the one that is most convenient. Select the convention which has the most value, not the one with the 'best' or most properties!

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©Quantonics, Inc., 1999-2006 Rev. 24Mar2008  PDR — Created 15Mar1999  PDR
(1Jun2001 rev - Italicize Pirsig's book titles. Remove legacy thelogos. Add some links. General housekeeping.)
(14Dec2001 rev - Add top of page frame-breaker.)
(7Feb2004 rev - Add cell padding.)
(24Mar2008 rev - Reformat slightly. Add mythos link to Doug's Hoffmann TSSoTQ ACT II review.)