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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.
Those who dare to think deeper than "the acceptable level" will be glad they read this thought. No reason to be afraid. Life is a gift... All life. It never ends.Published 7 days ago by Mesmith
I like different. This book was. It's well written and keeps the interest.Published 8 days ago by Jay Chen
I love the story of being on the road....but too much lost in thought long winded zen explanations that didn't really flow well. what a great title.... Read morePublished 14 days ago by Ali
Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is not one of those books where you say "Well, that was a good book.. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Danny
It's not about motorcycle maintenance, but about the philosophy of life and aspects of human interaction, perceptions, etc. Great readPublished 16 days ago by GeorgeNY
One of my all-time favourites. If you really like to get into something and understand it, this will be a delight for you. That's all I'll say about it, other than...read it. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Andy Holtz
I wanted very much to like this book but it's mostly rhetoric. I knew full well that this book is philosophy and not a book about motorcycle maintenance, I get that, but at the... Read morePublished 17 days ago by Brad