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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".
I read this book in my college years, so being able to have this in ebook form on my tablet is a real treat. It is as great a book this time as it was the first time.Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
Few books have motivated me as much as Pirsig's to be comfortable to ask my own questions and try to figure the answers out on my own. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Jeff L.
This book never gets old. It was recommended to me by a friend and I have enjoyed the read.Published 6 days ago by M. Stril
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Finish It, November 13, 2014
By Hawk - See all my reviews
This review is from: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Kindle... Read more
Still fresh decades after it blew my mind as a jungling.
The philosophy is the weakest point but the adventure of ideas, the roadtrip and the relationships
all add up to... Read more
Absolutely great. Riveting reading. Which is not something you can often say about philosophy books. Read morePublished 10 days ago by KP
This book legitimately blew my mind. A fascinating read that will really make you think. I really will have to read it again at some point since I only absorbed a small percentage... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Douglas Ehninger