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Quantonic Questions & Answers

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Sep99  How did Pirsig adapt classical empiricism to his new philosophy, his Metaphysics of Quality? Why?

Sorry for our delay in answering this question. We will restart our QQAs next month. Watch for a new question then.

Steve Marquis was a subscriber to our Quanto email list, and asked this question. We were about to answer it when Steve left our list to continue his more comfortable philosophical adventures in Stoicism. We put a lot of work into this answer, but it felt anticlimactic, so we allowed our QQA efforts to stall until now.

Steve's departure was unfortunate, because he had so much to offer Quantonics and Pirsig's MoQ. Our answer is now more concise, but no less important to you, our site visitors.


Ok, let's answer September, 1999's QQA on 1Mar2000, six months late!

Our question's 'why' part is easiest, so we will address it first.

Why did Pirsig adapt classical empiricism to his new philosophy, his Metaphysics of Quality?

Classical empiricism is essentially inductive. If we look up 'induce' we will find that its classical definition is causal. Worse, it is predictive and deterministic based upon historical evidence.

What do we know about Pirsig's MoQ? Certainly, it is not causal. Neither is it predictive nor deterministic.

To reflect, we can paraphrase Pirsig's words on any causation platypus, "Instead of A causes B, MoQ prefers to say B values precondition(s) A."

Pirsig did not like classical empiricism, however he really admired William James' rhetoric on empiricism which harbored a pragmatic flavor, i.e., choice/chance/change action (pluralistic evolutionary selection pragma) outcomes.

Well then, how did Pirsig adapt classical inductive empiricism to MoQ?

Pirsig saw that empiricism could be viewed 'better' as B values precondition A. In this new MoQ light, empiricism retains much of its former self, but without causal induction. Pirsig changed 'induction' to 'evolution.'

We may view nature's local preconditions at some/any Quality Event. Those preconditions do not predict what happens next. Instead, both local and nonlocal choices made at a Quality Event 'select' nature's next incremental chance/change outcome.

Pirsig substituted evolutionary natural selection as replacement for empiricism's former inductive deterministic causation. This is one of his most brilliant philosophical maneuvers.

We are unsure whether philosophical references classify empiricism this way, but it is important to understand Pirsig's distinction. Why? Classical empiricism brooks no Venn with quantum science, where Pirsig's noncausal empiricism is a perfect fit for stochastic, special, ensemble events in quantum reality.

See you next month.

Thanks for reading,


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©Quantonics, Inc., 2000-2008 Rev. 6Apr2007  PDR — Created 1Mar2000  PDR
(14Nov2001 rev - Add 'What Happens Next' link to general comments.)
(15Dec2001 rev - Add top of page frame-breaker.)
(7Feb2004 rev - Add cell padding.)
(6Apr2007 rev - Reformat. Adjust colors. Add an 'Pirsigean Empiricism' anchor. Add 'selection' link and con(m)text.)