Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  3,530 ratings  ·  198 reviews
Librarian's Note: this is an alternate cover edition - ISBN 10: 0553299611
Mass Market Paperback, 468 pages
Published 1991
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
It took me a long time to read this book, and I'm not sure how much these disparate readings affected my overall impression of the book. Pirsig doesn't have a narrative structure, he wanders. And these wanderings tend to circle back around and all tie in to a greater point or idea he's trying to get to the root of. Leaving the book for days or weeks at a time makes it hard to follow that strand and keep a sense of how the ideas you're reading about tie into the overall purpose of the book.

Zen i...more
1) The story is compelling. Post post midlife crisis man meets younger voluptuous woman. They travel down the river together. The convention is quite cheap. But he never saves her or she him and neither victimizes the other either. That's good. It's not really sensual (except for one scene). And the (self) portrait of the narrator is absolutely unsparing as is his portrait of the girl. She's not a waif or a femme fatale, but a complicated damaged person and him too. 2) The philosophy is narrativ...more
Robert Pirsig's previous book ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE is a profoundly influential book in my own life. I have probably given copies of it as gifts to more people than any other book except my own. It is a powerful examination of the meaning of life in a pseudo-novelistic framework that makes the philosophical explorations both more palatable and more understandable. Pirsig's sequel, LILA, is an attempt to follow up and expand on the discoveries of the first book. While it is no...more
Dec 25, 2007 Dax rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: philosophy
This was a fantastic read. There were two "mind-blowing" branches in this book. The first centers around evolution and morality among the three basic forces: biology, society, and intellectualism. The second talks about morality and ties into quality in terms of metaphysics and having "quality" be a scientific metric to judge things. This was a great book - more accessible than its predecessor (to me) and caused me to think quite a bit.
Nick H
I won't waste time in digging into the intellect that Pirsig puts into a fully formed idea within this book. It speaks for itself once you read it. That being said, if you are interested in a very brilliant look at philosophy/metaphysics/quality/values/morals, it doesn't get much more digestible and enjoyable than this. I loved this book, probably more so than Zen...perhaps because there are so many musings on so many subjects within these 400 or so pages, it becomes addictive to take in the ang...more
Jeff Offutt
What is quality? Is it a noun or a verb? Why is quality so important?

These are deep questions that affect everyone. Pirsig follows up his Zen book with a smoother, more sophisticated, and clearer book that may not be as mystifying and haunting, but is certainly more mature. This book made me rethink myself, my relationships with everyone I know, my professional behavior, and much about my research. By my limited understanding of Lila, I am a more effective father, friend, son, brother, teacher,...more
Ken Doggett
Lila : An Inquiry into Morals I'm not smart enough to review this book. Robert Pirsig is a certified genius; his I.Q. at age 9 was 170. I read his first book, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," back in the 1970s when it was released, and found that, much to my surprise, I enjoyed the philosophy presented in it as much as I enjoyed the story. I'd like to read it again. His second book, "Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals," is a much more difficult read.I didn't know about this book until arou...more
Nick Baker
Pirsig used this book as a vehicle to carry his own personal philosophy. This vehicle is in serious need of repair. This vehicle is a rusted 1982 Honda Civic that needs new brake pads..The narrative in which the philosophy is suppose to be realized is hardly a narrative. The minute the narrative starts to gain depth or breadth or meaning, the narrator divulges twenty pages of metaphysics (although very interesting metaphysics), meanwhile the reader is left hanging. The author clumsily navigates...more
Hshafter Shafter
There are some really interesting ideas in this book. Here are my favorites (in my own words-mostly):

-Darwin's Theory of Evolution fails to account for improvement; the author posits that it's not about survival, it's about striving towards Quality

-There are 2 kinds of Quality: Static and Dynamic. Dynamic Quality allows for change that creates improvement. Static Quality prevents backsliding. Too much Static Quality leads to stagnation. Too much Dynamic Quality leads to chaos.

-Cells are only int...more
It’s been 21 years since I read this book, and much longer since I read its predecessor, ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE (1974), Persig’s only two books. I kept seeing LILA on my bookshelf and decided it might be worth rereading, both for its sake and to put ZEN in perspective. It was, on both counts. I think LILA is every bit as interesting as ZEN and may be clearer in expressing its central concerns about what makes life good or worthwhile.

LILA has some obvious similarities with ZEN...more
I just re-read this book as I have also read Pirsig's first book, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" multiple times. Pirsig writes on multiple levels. He writes of his own personal odyssey into himself and his attempt to come to grips with his mind's unique way of viewing the world which has put him in the position of being viewed as not quite sane. He attempts to help someone else (Lila) come to grips with her condition as part of this novel.

At the same time, he delves into the philos...more
The basic question is "Does Lila (the book) have quality?"

Overall, the narrative of Phaedrus and Lila is far less engaging than the one between Phaedrus and his son in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZAMM). I did enjoy some of the passages on sailing and the scene where Phaedrus is confronted by a critic of ZAMM but the book lacked a cohesive framework. The scene with Robert Redford was disappointing and the final conclusion in Manhattan is anti-climatic and bland.

I found that Pirsig'...more
Keely Hyslop
Nov 24, 2007 Keely Hyslop rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone questioning morality, convention, or society
Shelves: philosophy
This book started out quite promisingly. It had some really amazing, mind-blowing parts. But near the middle of the book there is a light drizzle and then a torrent of classism and a touch of veiled racism. The ending is also rather disappointing. The book hovers between epiphany and wrongheadedness. It was to be fair, a very ambitious topic, constructing an entirely new metaphysics based on the value as an intuitive undefinable concept. The sort of project where it is easy to lose your way.

Harish Venkatesan
You have to muddle through the first few chapters as Pirsig sets up his assumptions and recounts his key findings from Zen and the Art.., but what follows is a compelling read about a highly evolved metaphysical system- one that bridges the gap between Eastern mysticism and Western empiricism (or romanticism and classicism), and solves numerous problems inherent in the subject-object metaphysic while sketching out an important framework for a new moral code.
In addition, the book contains a lot...more
David Guy
This book was a disappointment for me. Pirsig somehow is interested in the world of ideas in a way that I am not, and spent most of Lila further developing the stystematic philosophy that he had begun in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I was actually interested in Lila herself, the woman who forms a kind of backdrop for all these ideas, but she never really came into focus, and I didn't think the author ever took her that seriously. I'm interested in people, not ideas, but Pirsig seem...more
I haven't read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but from what I understand, Pirsig spends the entire book arriving at the notion of Quality. In Lila, he expands this into a metaphysical framework, which has since come to be called the Metaphysics of Quality ([]). It's more of a philosophical treatise than a novel, and the MoQ is an interesting and appealing framework.

I may actually not get around to reading ZMM, but Lila stands well on its own.
Vasil Kolev
Книгата страда от стандартният проблем на философите, че си измислят свят, който е далеч от реалността и после се оправдават, че реалност няма и тяхното е все толкова валидно, колкото и всичко останало. Книгата е слаба, а в сравнение с "Дзен и изкуството да поддържаш мотоциклет" е жалка.
The philsophical inconsistencies between this and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, made me want to write an argumentative letter to the author .. . which I take as evidence that he had something of import to say.
Barb Williams
Jun 06, 2007 Barb Williams rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Philosophers/Psychologist
Like Zen and the Art of MM, he investigates/explores the giant philosophic questions - life's questions - within a perfectly written tale of human curiosity, isolation and connection and mostly, insanity - all the stuff I LOVE!
Lila is a good book.

In Lila Pirsig builds on his idea of Quality developed in Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by creating a Metaphysics of Quality with an aim of replacing the subject-object metaphysics of Western philosophy. He also puts mysticism in the same framework as substance and mind by modelling both substance and morals as quality, but with a separation between what he calls static and Dynamic patterns of value.

To Pirsig, Dynamic value is chaotic, and occurs through mystical...more
Jan 06, 2008 Marc marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Need to read this after enjoying Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance.
While the narrative was paper thin, and little more than window-dressing and a device to explore insanity as a means of individual patterns not upheld by society, the book itself was an extremely fascinating exploration of the Metaphysics of Quality. Because of the narrative being almost nonexistent and almost superfluous to the story, I docked the book one star. The real 'meat' of the book is found in the exposition of the intricacy of Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality; notably, how the philosoph...more
For readers of Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, you may as well give Lila a chance. Brace yourself for a change of story. Unlike Zen and The Art of, Lila is Phaedrus's story with Lila on a boat. There's no father/son story here. It's Phaedrus developing his Metaphysics of Quality and exploring values in whatever context presents itself along the way--in every tangent Phaedrus owes each topic/issue the complexity it deserves (i.e. he offers enough depth, provides examples in lo...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Philippe Escaffre
Dix-sept ans après le 'Traité du zen et de l'entretien des motocyclettes', Robert Pirsig déploie sa métaphysique de la Qualité le long d'une descente du fleuve Hudson avec quantité de méandres et digressions autour du cours central...

'La racine proto-indo-européenne d'aretê est le morphème rt. Et là, auprès d'aretê se trouvait un trésor d'autres mots dérivés de rt : "arithmétique", "aristocrate", "art", "rhétorique", "rite", "rituel", ainsi que les mots anglais "worth", "wright", "right". Tous c...more
Heather Browning
I find it hard to know what I thought about this book overall, my thoughts varied quite a lot throughout reading it. The beginning was promising, it seemed like there might be more actual story than Zen, with more complete characters, and the ideas he wanted to explore seemed relevant and interesting.
It very quickly got bogged down in somewhat complex metaphysics, at which point I almost gave up, but once this was done he simply covered the applications of his ideas, which were much easier to f...more
This is a sequel to the cult classic, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values, and Pirsig, by his own admission, anticipated that it would stand the test of time even better than his first work. Philosophically it is more conclusive and I found it more satisfying than ZAMM. The "enquiry into morals" seems to actually lead to some more concretely applicable conclusions than the previous "enquiry into values". We journey with the same character, Phaedrus, several years af...more
Jack Beltane
I read this book because I liked Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance so much. The thing is, where the philosophic musings of Zen seemed tangential to the narrative element, and helped illuminate it, Lila had a narrative that was tangential to the philosophy, and did little for it.

Pirsig may even have recognized this himself, and what he says just a few pages before the end of the book could serve as a review of the book itself: "It attempts to capture the Dynamic within a static pattern....more
Mason Wiebe
Like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, this book has a lot of deep philosophical discussion interlaced with stories of a journey of some sort that Phaedrus (the author in his earlier life) is on. In this one, Pirsig is on a trip to sail down the Hudson River into the Atlantic and then down to Florida. The story begins just outside of Manhattan where he encounters a mysterious woman named Lila who spends a few days on his boat with him. She is somewhat of an unsavory character, and later...more
Denise Greenwood
Aug 08, 2013 Denise Greenwood rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: deep thinkers
Recommended to Denise by: a natural progression from Zen & The Art...
First of all I must clear aside the fact that I did not fall head over heels like I did with Zen and the Art.... and I suppose that is because I found that the reader has to be 'ready' to read Robert's first book. By that I mean, at a point in one's life where one is looking for something and that can be at any age depending on the reader. Bearing this now in mind, Lila is not as deep or searching or requires nearly as much contemplation between paragraphs.

The story has evolved from the first bo...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Has somebody else of you have read this great book ? 11 84 May 25, 2013 07:17AM  
  • Bear and His Daughter
  • Paradise
  • Persian Nights
  • Whites
  • Unlocking the Air and Other Stories
  • At Weddings and Wakes
  • Jernigan
  • Mr. Ives' Christmas
  • American Woman
  • Mean Spirit
  • What I Lived For
  • Shakespeare's Kitchen
  • An Unfinished Season
  • Servants of the Map
  • The Quick and the Dead
  • All Souls
  • Love in Infant Monkeys
  • Godric
Robert Maynard Pirsig (born September 6, 1928, Minneapolis, Minnesota) is an American writer and philosopher, mainly known as the author of the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (1974), which has sold millions of copies around the world.

(author photo: Attribution: Copyright (c) Ian Glendinning 2005
More about Robert M. Pirsig...
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values Lila's Child: An Inquiry Into Quality Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: Summary & Study Guide Coffee with Plato The Devil Can Ride: The World's Best Motorcycle Writing

Share This Book