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Archive: Other Books > Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values: Robert M. Pirsig - 4 stars

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message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2105 comments This is a very difficult book to explain.

It has very little to almost nothing to do with Zen or Motorcycle maintenance. This is an autobiography, and starts with the authors trip from Indiana to the west coast, on a motorcycle, with his son and another couple. During what he calls Chautauquas, he uses the motorcycle as well as climbing mountains as an analogy for life and other "systems" all the while telling the story of his past which includes a nervous breakdown and a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.

But this is not he purpose of the book. The book deals with "What is Quality" and the metaphysics of quality. He touches on the philosophy of Kant, Hume, Aristotle, Socrates, Plato in his search for Quality or Goodness and, as the subtitle shows, his inquiry into Values. He tries to connect what he defines as classical and romantic views of Quality.

This book is very deep and abstract and I would say 1 reading is probably not enough. It very thought provoking and quite a lesson on philosophy.

I recommend a quite wiki look at Robert Pirsig and the book. I went into this pretty much blind, being recommended by a friend who had only read a few chapters and though it was about motorcycle maintenance.


message 2: by Cheryl (last edited Apr 24, 2018 07:41PM) (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) The Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Oh, wow, I haven't thought of this in years. It used to be very widely read (or at least carried, referred to, etc.) in the 'circle' I traveled in, way back when. I tried to read it, but I've always been bent more toward hard science than philosophy, and I didn't get far. Maybe I should try again.


message 3: by annapi (new)

annapi | 5160 comments I tried this when I was 16 because it was the book my first boyfriend was reading. I couldn't understand it and gave up on it halfway through. I kept waiting for it to give some insight into zen.


message 4: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia I remember reading and owning this book during my university days in the 80's. It was a hard one to get one's head around, as I remember. But, it my circles, it was a badge of honour to say you had read it, lol!


message 5: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2105 comments Annapi, just as the motocycle is symbolic, so is the zen. It really has nothing to do with Buddhist idea of zen. Zen is symbolic of a a romantic view of life. A romantic view of quality or good. The motocycle maintenance is the clasical view of quality or good and he shows how they can be combined. Guess you can say romantic is eastern philosophy and classical is western philosophy. Absolute goodness vs absolute truth.

I think that is what this book was saying.


message 6: by Idit (new)

Idit | 1028 comments I read it in my early twenties and the narrator totally pissed me off at the time. He was so self-centred (in a way that many new-age people felt to me) and I was very sorry for his little boy
I can’t say I remember more than that


message 7: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) Idit wrote: "I read it in my early twenties and the narrator totally pissed me off at the time. He was so self-centred (in a way that many new-age people felt to me) and I was very sorry for his little boy
I ca..."


Oh, that turns me off.


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