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Phaedrus, our narrator, takes a present-tense cross-country motorcycle trip with his son during which the maintenance of the motorcycle becomes an illustration of how we can unify the cold, rational realm of technology with the warm, imaginative realm of artistry. As in Zen, the trick is to become one with the activity, to engage in it fully, to see and appreciate all details--be it hiking in the woods, penning an essay, or tightening the chain on a motorcycle.
In his autobiographical first novel, Pirsig wrestles both with the ghost of his past and with the most important philosophical questions of the 20th century--why has technology alienated us from our world? what are the limits of rational analysis? if we can't define the good, how can we live it? Unfortunately, while exploring the defects of our philosophical heritage from Socrates and the Sophists to Hume and Kant, Pirsig inexplicably stops at the middle of the 19th century. With the exception of Poincaré, he ignores the more recent philosophers who have tackled his most urgent questions, thinkers such as Peirce, Nietzsche (to whom Phaedrus bears a passing resemblance), Heidegger, Whitehead, Dewey, Sartre, Wittgenstein, and Kuhn. In the end, the narrator's claims to originality turn out to be overstated, his reasoning questionable, and his understanding of the history of Western thought sketchy. His solution to a synthesis of the rational and creative by elevating Quality to a metaphysical level simply repeats the mistakes of the premodern philosophers. But in contrast to most other philosophers, Pirsig writes a compelling story. And he is a true innovator in his attempt to popularize a reconciliation of Eastern mindfulness and nonrationalism with Western subject/object dualism. The magic of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance turns out to lie not in the answers it gives, but in the questions it raises and the way it raises them. Like a cross between The Razor's Edge and Sophie's World, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance takes us into "the high country of the mind" and opens our eyes to vistas of possibility. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I read this book the first time over twenty years ago when I was in college.
As an adult, one of the books I come back to again and again is Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
If you really, really like it, you'll have to read Pirsig's other book "Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals".
Interesting read, though a little hard to follow for the philosophical dilettante.Published 15 hours ago by Brad
The anecdotes of the journey were interesting. The other stuff was a bit boring.Published 5 days ago by Sarah Brice
This is a fascinating read. There are some chapters that get a bit slow but that can be expected considering the content. Enjoy the ride.Published 5 days ago by Fitness_1st
This is a great book. You can safely ignore the naysayers, especially the elitists (or wannabes, anyway) who snobbishly condemn Pirsig for approaching philosophy with the earthy... Read morePublished 10 days ago by A. Reader
Plato gives me an out of body experience. Pirsig is a Platonic philosopher, so at times I had a relative out of body experience reading this. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Justin Wollenberg
First read this book nearly forty years ago....then read it several more times and even added comments in all the borders. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Donald B. Mangum
A very well written book. A good story of a father and his son. Perhaps a bit too much philosophy and not enough motorcycle for me. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Austin