Talk:Pirsig's metaphysics of Quality

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Quantum Physics and Quality Metaphysics.

I'm not able to tell Paul Vogel much about Quantum Mech. but Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality (MOQ) bears some likeness with the Physics of Quantum (POQ) in the sense that both has a weak and a strong interpretation. Albert Einstein represented POQ's weak interpretation, he claimed that its weird predictions were due to some hidden parameters, if these were found it would fit the "normal" (Newton) Physics. Niels Bohr represented the strong ditto and said that Newton Physics merely is a special case within a greater Quantum Reality, no hidden parameters were needed, Quantum reality is incompatible with Newtonian "normality". Einstein is long ago proved wrong (f.ex. by Alain Aspect experiment in the eighties) so now POQ's strong interpretation rules.

The MOQ has created a similar interpretational schism since Pirsig published it in his book "Lila, An Inquiry into Morals" (1991) and it has been intensively discussed for almost twenty years. As the main Wiki article indicates MOQ's first postulate is that "Quality is Reality", but from here the "weak interpretation" goes on to say that this Quality-reality is "intellectually" divided into a dynamic and a static component and - further - that the static part is subdivided into four levels - inorganic, biological, social and intellectual - and everyone will see that if the MOQ is contained within the 4th. level the totality is contained within a sub-set of the same totality and causes a grave logical bend. Moreover, an impossible Quality/MOQ "meta-metaphysics" is created, but let that rest

Counter to this the strong interpretation" says that the "Quality-Reality is MOQ's dynamic part which has spawned the aforementioned static levels. However, when it comes to the 4th. level a fundamental break occurs as this is made the former Subject/Object Metaphysics (SOM) which the MOQ claims it replaces. One will see that by this view SOM plays the same role within the MOQ as Newton Physics does in the POQ; It is a special case (a static level) within the greater Quality Reality. This creates a neat metaphysical system with no loose ends and with enormous explanatory power. This in contrast to the weak one which is nothing BUT loose ends and has zero power. The tragedy however is a doctoral thesis and degree - based on the weak interpretation - is published and have given it an air of being the official version. This however will bring it nowhere because it's just more of good old SOM: Quality as (objective) reality with the MOQ a (subjective) ordering of it. To get into further details here requires some knowledge of MOQ's finer points, but I may add some more if any interest is noticed.

Bodvar Skutvik —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:23, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

quantum mechanics[edit]

Can someone give me a pointer to what is said about quantum mechanics. Everytime I've seem QM mentioned in this context, they get it wrong, but I want to look at what is actually said before including it in the article.

QM indicates that "reality" is actually not as "deterministic" as was previously thought, and that is what is mostly said in the MOQ as well.

Short answer: Pirsig doesn't know the first thing about quantm mechanics, just like he doesn't know the first thing about philosophy.

That "short answer" above, only indicates that this person actually knows very little about all three: Pirsig, QM, and REAL Philosophy! Nothing is new about that, as most of Pirsig's critics, like many of those of Nietzsche and Pierce, also, really just don't understand them and their advanced concepts of Reality.

Best regards,

Paul Vogel

Ooh... advanced concepts of reality, and cosmotheism. I must update my subscriptions to the physics journals.

It's no wonder "most of Pirsig's critics ... don't understand" Pirsig's MoQ -- it is swamped with ambiguity and self-contradiction. kostmo 01:39, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

Could somebody actually write something about what the philosophy actually says? This article just says it reaches "unconventional conclusions" but doesn't ever state what those conclusions are. And it says that it's related to Tao, Zen, and American Indian culture, but not how it's related. Vague to the nth degree. Gwalla | Talk 21:20, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)

This page is an embarassment; for one, because of the reasons Gwalla pointed out, for two, the first two paragraphs are word-for-word plagarisms from The reason it reads like ad copy is because it was plagarized FROM an advertisement for Pirsig's 'Lila'. I have not removed it, not because it is not that bad, but because I can't find any copyright notices at But the text is not fit for an encyclopedia and I'll come up with something better when I get the chance.Marteau 20:39, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Copyright notices are irrelevant. All original written material is copyrighted unless it is explicitly released into the public domain. Gwalla | Talk 03:36, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The latest addition claims that "subject-object based metaphysics" is "the darling of the intellectual movement". This makes no sense (and smells POV). There is no "the intellectual movement" (there are, however, specific intellectual movements). Also, the term "subject-object based metaphysics" is redlinked, which is odd for something that's supposedly so fundamental to Western philosophy. Gwalla | Talk 03:36, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)

OK, I changed some of my wording. The POV that you are refering to is Pirsig's. And it makes good sense. Rather than "intellectual movement" (Which does exist... the space race, democracy, communism all are children of it.) I wrote "Intellectual patterns" which is Pirsig's terminology for the movement that followed the social repression of the past (Organized religion, fuedalism etc.). The modern intellectual is an empirical animal and has distanced facts from values exentsively. I've heard people make the argument that the "subject-object metaphysics" is a straw man that is easy to attack but hard to find anyone using anywhere in the world... well it's that kind of blindness that keeps empirical people stuck in a rut. It is evident everywhere! Cultural Anthropology is considered second rate to Physical Anthropology because of the values (all non-recordable) associated with culture. Religion and science are constantly battling. Art and Science have been seperate since the invention of the university in medieval europe. Pirsig's way of looking at things relies on the use of quality (an undefinable mediator between these terms "object" and "subject") Also you mentioned that the term "subject-object based metaphysics" is redlinked, this is because it is pirsig's terminology for the widely accepted metaphysics... I was just didn't have enough time to write an article on it. Perhaps my article on it will simply bea link to an existing article about the same thing under the terms of the philosophical establishment. Wraybm1

Hi Gwalla and Marteau who asked what the MOQ is about- The Wikipedia article is based on the weak interpretation of the MOQ and is thus flawed from the outset and it's difficult to find where to start, but note this.

"...the traditional dualistic subjective/objective mindset found in the West."

...which is what Pirsig calls Subject/Object Metaphysics (SOM) and what the Quality Metaphysics is supposed to replace. The strong interpretation says that it does so by making SOM its own fourth static intellectual level. Thus this level's patterns are not ideas as the article says, but subject/object patterns. To demonstrate this METAPHYSICAL revolution compare it with the Copernican COSMOLOGICAL one. it bears an almost uncannily likeness. As every schoolboy know the old Ptolemaian cosmology presupposed that the earth is universe's center, but the (what we know are planets) "wandering stars" movements on the firmament (some makes loops and even goes backward) required a fantastic complicated system of crystal circles within circles to harmonize the observations with the erroneous premises. Then enter Copernicus who suggested that the sun was the center and the earth was a planet circling the sun and with one stroke he erased the need for any crystal system. The observed orbits were just how they HAD to be seen from the earth. THIS is exactly what Pirsig has done, his "copernican" MOQ which says that everything turns round the Dynamic/Static QUALITY configuration clears away all complications created by SOMs premises that everything turns round the subject/object configuration. This is the strong interpretation of the MOQ in a nutshell. Bodvar Skutvik

metaphysics of quality[edit]

merged in the "Metaphysics of quality" (small q) entry since this is already here.Heah 01:19, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

about that merge...[edit]

I think that a whole lot of misleading info was merged in from the old article... I edited out many little pieces that tried to claim that Quality is the thing that divides things into subjects and objects. Pirsig would not agree. Man is what divides things. Quality supercedes man and everything else. One of the biggest points of the MOQ is that subject and object do not exist... they are just used to talk about SOM. Quality accounts exhaustively for everything... there are static patterns of quality (inorganic, biological, social and intellectual) and there is dynamic quality. The latter is the thing that makes the person jump off of the stove and the former is the hot stove itself --in this case an inorganic pattern of value. So, the subject/object language is not adequate when talking about quality. Subject and object are nearly irrelevant in terms within MOQ. Lets leave them out in this article unless talking about the SOM (Subject Object Metaphysics) Now it might be argued that Pirsig sketched out that little hierarchy of subject linking object through quality in ZAMM... but he built on his theory enough in Lila that the entire metaphysics uses different semantics (Dynamic and Static quality which are not exactly equal to subjective and objective) He started out looking for a way to link subject and object, he did this through quality and then ended up having to discard subject and object entirely for quality. It'd be like some people building a bridge across a river to link two towns... in the middle of the river they use an island to help support the bridge... Then 20 later the two towns have become irrelevant and the island is a major city. --Wraybm1 20:30, 4 May 2005 (UTC)

WOW whoever this person at IP address ( is did an amazing job sharpening up this article. Wonderful! It's bangin'! --Wraybm1 20:34, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Quality and mental illness[edit]

Did his musings on quality drive Pirsig crazy? His Zen and the Art touches deeply on mental illness.

I personally had an epiphany while reading the book as a teen.

What is it, about quality? Uncle Ed 17:26, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

An epiphany is the appearance, in this world, of something or someone from another world.Lestrade (talk) 14:23, 9 November 2009 (UTC)Lestrade

The article contains the following words: "'Quality,' or 'value,' as described by Pirsig, cannot be defined because it empirically precedes any intellectual construction of it." First, it asserts that the word "quality" is exactly the same as the word "value." In so doing, the article takes its most important word and equates it with a totally unrelated concept. Then, the article claims that the word "quality" can't be defined. In this way, there can be no communication between author and reader. Everyone is left to guess about the author's ideas and each reader will understand Pirsig in his or her own way, regardless of what the author is trying to say.Lestrade (talk) 13:26, 14 October 2012 (UTC)Lestrade

Persistent deletion of my MOQ link[edit]

I'd like to open up a discussion about the persistent deletion of a link to my MOQ page, in the External Links section of this article. I am quite certain I know who the person is behind and why he is deleting it, and so I can say with some confidence that his reasons are personal and wouldn't pertain to the larger Wikipedia community (but to this point he should speak for himself). Efforts to properly engage him and resolve the issue outside of this forum have been fruitless, to say the least. Rather than continue the edit war I would instead like to make the case that my page is relevant to this article and deserves inclusion as a link. The MOQ is a radical philosophy that has its supporters and detractors. Unlike any of the other external links listed, mine offers - and explicitly states that it offers - a dissenting point of view of it, that, to my knowledge, is not found in any organized fashion anywhere else on the Internet. On these points, the inclusion of my link serves well the Wikipedia guidelines for external links:

"On articles with multiple Points of View, a link to sites dedicated to each, with a detailed explanation of each link. The number of links dedicated to one POV should not overwhelm the number dedicated to any other. One should attempt to add comments to these links informing the reader of what their POV is."

Persons interested in taking a closer look at the MOQ might well find my short essays/posts on evolution, pragmatism, gravity, God, Dynamic Quality, the moral hierarchy, the scientific method and others, as well as the controversial spoof paper I wrote for the first MOQ conference, to be of value in determining whether this philosophy should be pursued. Thank you for giving this matter your attention. - Glenn Bradford

I found the material to be of use and anyone who discusses Pirsig should be aware of it. Perhaps if it was put under a "Dissenting Views" rubric, it might not give whoever is deleting the link the vapours like it seems to be doing. 22:08, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
The deletion of this link is still happening and it is unacceptable behaviour under Wikipedia guidelines. I have reinstated it. (talk) 22:54, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
I have taken a look at the links you provided and would obviously like to help avoid an edit war. I have no personal involvement or investment in this topic. I agree that there should be an equal weighting of POV links. However the links that you provide do not necessarily meet wikipedia standards for external links. I believe they fail the standards for Reliable Sources, in particular Notability. I think they should be removed, let me know what you think. BananaFiend (talk) 15:02, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
To my understanding Reliable Sources and Notability are standards for articles not standards for External Links. Indeed, external links to be considered include precisely, 'Sites which fail to meet criteria for reliable sources yet still contain information about the subject of the article from knowledgeable sources.' Any thoughts? (talk) 09:51, 23 December 2008 (UTC)
Per the the External Links policy: "Links to blogs and personal web pages, except those written by a recognized authority" are to be avoided. The page states that it mostly comprises "links to posts I wrote for the MOQ discussion lists", and accordingly does not belong. Kablammo (talk) 10:31, 23 December 2008 (UTC)
This is misleading. The page linked is neither a blog nor a personal web page. The External Links policy also says to avoid links that take you to discussion forums. The content was originally written for a discussion forum, but the link does not take you to one. The original posts have been reproduced at this website and, as the page states, re-worked as short essays. - Glenn Bradford —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:34, 23 December 2008 (UTC)
Some minor editing would surely remove any doubt about the nature of the webpage in dispute. Springing from this and closely related to it, the article as a whole does still suffer from a total absence of balance and this impression is reinforced by the nature of the links. I would suggest that a section entitled 'Criticism' would benefit readers, perhaps based upon Julian Baggini's interview [1] - the only serious engagement of which I am aware from a professional philosopher - or perhaps that interview should be included in the external links section? Any thoughts? (talk) 14:49, 23 December 2008 (UTC)
Posts from a discussion forum belong on that forum, and disagreements or robust discussion from that forum should stay there. Off-wiki disagreements, if such they are, should not be continued here. Responsible criticism from a notable academic ("recognized authority") may be appropriate, but personal posts to a discussion forum, then copied to a private page, are not the sort of thing that should be linked here. Kablammo (talk) 15:54, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

This shouldn't be about Odum[edit]

a google search for "metaphysics of quality" Odum pulls in precisely 7 results, and i beleive they are all this page or mirrors. From what i can tell he never used the MOQ as his own; rather saying that emergy had correlations with value theory. So unless there is good reason to keep it here, i'm removing it all. --He:ah? 23:18, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

This shouldn't be about Pirsig[edit]

What is the "metaphysics" of "quality" about? If it is exclusively about Prisig's philosophy then maybe it should only be mentioned on the Robert M. Pirsig page. It is the case that other philosophers & theorists have developed metaphysical attitudes towards the concept of quality throughout the history of western and eastern philosophy. These attitudes should therefore be mentioned in this article which is about the metaphysics of quality, and not simply Prisig's philosophy. Odum had a metaphysics of quality which deserves mention in this article. In fact Odum's scientific work seems to complement much of Prisig's theory. I propose that the sumamry of Odum's attitude should be reinstated and will do so if there is no further argument. Sholto Maud 07:09, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

NO further arguement has been forthcomming....Sholto Maud 06:39, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

Just saw this . . . You are misunderstanding this article. this article is about a particular metaphysical view in which quality is seen as the underlying ontological factor, a theory which was formulated by Pirsig. It isn't about the possible metaphysical foundations of quality, or metaphysical attitudes towards quality, it is about a metaphysical theory called the "metaphysics of quality"; it has never been about anything else, (if you check the history), other than in the addition of Odum's theories.
Again, this theory sees quality as the central ontological factor, this theory is called the "metaphysics of quality", and this theory is what the page is about. a google search for +"metaphysics of quality" +Pirsig gets almost 20,000 hits; a search for +"metaphysics of quality" +Odum gets all of 23, and these are almost all links to wikipedia-related articles, many in the form of outdated mirrors of this page. It isn't the name of any theory odum formulated, as far as i know. A philosophical discussion of the possible metaphysical foundations of quality should go elsewhere.
--heah 06:52, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

I think my misunderstanding comes about because the title is misleading. I suggest the article is retitle to read "Pirsig's metaphysics of quality" to avoid misunderstanding. However it might be more appropriate to merge this article with the article about Pirsig which is quite short and could be extended to include his philosophy.

I suggest this because Odum's work and that of others like Frank, Woodger etc., all see quality as "the central ontological facotr", and therefore, on the grounds you give above, qualify under the theoretical banner of the "metaphysics of quality". If this is what the page is about then these authors should be included because they qualify.
  • Re: Odum's metaphysics of quality: it does not get many google hits because not many people know about it, so I don't think googling is an indicator of anything in this discussion other than there are alot of philosopher's out there who haven't read Odum's work. :) Sholto Maud 11:00, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

As of Sholto Maud 07:53, 21 May 2006 (UTC) this issue hasn't been resolved. I'm going to rename the page to Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality if no one objects.

cs lewis link[edit]

Sorry this isn't of the grandeur of MOQ discussions, but what is the link to C.S. Lewis doing at the bottom of the page. I really cannot tell how MOQ and "The Abolition of Man" are related. Any clarity, anyone?—Preceding unsigned comment added by [[User:{{{1}}}|{{{1}}}]] ([[User talk:{{{1}}}|talk]] • [[Special:Contributions/{{{1}}}|contribs]])

I don't know who added the link but it's not entirely inappropriate. "The Abolition of Man" came to mind when I recently started to read ZAMM as did Gradgrind.
"The Humanistic Realist Perspective on Truth
As a middle ground to the dispute between scientific materialism and skeptical rejections of science like social constructivism, several thinkers have advanced humanistic philopsophies of science. This approach accepts the insights about reality gained by science without rejecting the insights of such enterprises as poetry, art and religion. Popular accounts of such a middle ground include C. S Lewis's Aboltion of Man and Robert Pirsigs's Zen and the Art of Motrocycle Maintenance". (Owen's ape & Darwin's bulldog: beyond Darwinism and creationism, p. 9, Christopher Ernest Cosans, Indiana University Press, 2009, ISBN 0253220513) Yt95 (talk) 12:16, 13 May 2011 (UTC)


Pseudophilosophy says that Pirsig's theory is often cited as an example. I think this article ought to say why it is often considered pseudophilosophy, and perhaps to attempt to defend it. Pirsig's theory can't be worse than Leibniz's Pre-established harmony, Spinoza's Pantheism, Hegel's Absolute idealism, or Nietzsche's Eternal recurrence. These are considered by academics to be genuine philosophies.Lestrade (talk) 14:30, 9 November 2009 (UTC)Lestrade


Pirsig may have misunderstood the word "quality." He took it to mean "high degree of superior excellence or perfection" when it should have been understood to mean "property, characteristic, or attribute of a thing." An example of the second meaning of quality is "Sweetness is a quality that is common to honey and sugar." An example of the first meaning of quality is "Japanese and Korean cars are of a higher quality than American cars." Lestrade (talk) 11:51, 3 June 2013 (UTC)Lestrade

So you're saying that the word has two meanings and he chose the wrong one. In your opinion. Quelle douche. 2601:150:0:DA40:F5B2:C0D6:4A29:5870 (talk) 22
53, 15 June 2015 (UTC) americanegro

Moved from article[edit]

The page history of Metaphysics of Quality should be merged with this page's history when the block-compression bug is fixed.


The title "Pirsig's metaphysics of Quality" doesn't match how the subject is used in the article. In the article it is just "Metaphysics of Quality". Also, what's with the capitalization: why is it "Pirsig's metaphysics of Quality" and not "Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality", or even better, "Pirsig's metaphysics of quality"? (talk) 17:16, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

Inconsistent capitalization[edit]

Either the initial "m" in the title should be capitalized (as it currently is in the rest of the article) or the "q" should be set in lower case. 2601:2:4D40:BD63:2173:70CA:9B97:B32F (talk) 06:58, 16 April 2015 (UTC)