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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.
In fact the concept of quality and the ancient debate between rational (logical) and subjective (rhetorical) views of the world are truly the subject of the book.
Personally I felt the book was extremely boring and at times I even found myself thinking, what the.... Well you know the rest.
I am not one to write reviews nor capable of the literary prowess needed to review this book. Thus, I will leave just one remark, it was a mental voyage of the like I have never... Read morePublished 10 days ago by Oruchimaru
People educated in philosophy may not like it for its heavy 'pseudo' philosophy. However it's a great story about a super intelligent guy who loses his mind, then reflects on what... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Geoff Powell
Philosophy couched in a first-person narrative. The author goes on what he calls "Chautauquas," long discussions of philosophy that aren't related to the actual narrative... Read morePublished 13 days ago by Matt E.
For years folks have been suggesting I read this book. Found myself on a motorcycle riding around south america. Seemed like an appropriate time. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Matthew R.
I have to keep reading this one over and over, and I'm still not getting the full benefit of it, but I get some good stuff out of it every time I read it, so I don't mind going... Read morePublished 16 days ago by Amanda Marie Pingel Ramsay