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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values is the first of Robert M. Pirsig's books in which he begins to explain a Metaphysics of Quality. The book contains a description of a journey across the United States, interrupted by numerous philosophical dissertations referred to as chautauquas.

The Metaphysics of Quality is a philosophy, a theory about reality. It asks questions such as what is real, what is good and what is moral. As the title of the book suggests, much of the MOQ has to do with a non-intellectual Zen-like view of the universe. Yet Pirsig departs from Eastern thinking by arguing that reason and logic are just as important in seeking understanding.

Pirsig is not the first philosopher to try and bridge the gap between science and mysticism, however with the MOQ he elevates the whole debate to a new level by structuring both paradigms round a single concept -- value. Pirsig throws new light on issues such as mind and matter, the behavior of particles at the quantum level and the nature of consciousness. At the social level there is much to say about racial tension, celebrity cults and mental illness.

Pirsig's journey and philosophy are continued in Lila:_An_Inquiry_into_Morals.

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