Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Topics: Thought, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Feeling Pages: 5 (1769 words) Published: April 19, 2012
I used to think that I knew what quality was. But after reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I realized I hadn’t even scratched the surface as to what quality really is. As Pirsig has said, quality cannot even be defined since it precedes every intellectual construction of it. Although this may be true, I will attempt to do so for the sake of this paper, both in terms of romantic and classical viewpoints. In reading my paper, I hope people can better understand where they stand on the spectrum of classical vs. romantic. Also, I hope that readers will be able to have a better understanding of quality and values so that they can make their lives a little more convenient and less stressful.

Quality, from what I can tell, is an attribute that determines whether something is enjoyable or is an inconvenience. It is based on subjective feelings, and it’s similar to the phrase beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It works like this, if something is very enjoyable, or does not cause any stress or inconvenience, then it has good quality. If does cause stress or frustration, then it has low quality. It’s important to this paper, because the point of conducting the interviews is to see what different people think of when they hear Quality.

Quality is what drives us to live, and not just live, but live with as little suffering as possible. It’s what forces us to evolve to experience even greater levels of quality. Without it there would really be no point to life. In fact, there would probably be no life at all if there was no Quality. Everything is a product and a result of Quality.

A romantic is someone who is creative and inspirational. They rely on feelings rather than depending heavily on facts to make their decisions. The first thing that one might think of when they hear the word romantic is art. On the other hand, classical describes a person who relies on facts and are greatly interested in the details, like the process of making and keeping maintenance on a motorcycle. The first word that comes to mind when thinking about classicism is technology. One might even think about science or even medicine. The relationship between art and technology is a good indication for a person to figure out whether they are classical or romantic.

The first person that I interviewed was my grandfather, George Sledge. He is a little over sixty years old (I feel a little bad not knowing his exact age) and he is best characterized as a farmer. He loves doing yard work, he owns a farm by the way, and he especially loves to hunt. I wanted to interview someone who was quite old and had a lot of different experiences, and like a romantic, I went with my feeling that he would be a good choice. I first asked him what his relationship to technology was. He said that technology does make his life easier, but he rather not have to depend on it as much as he does. He did say that he valued having it in his life, since he grew up in a time when technology was very limited. When I think of my grandfather in this way, I think of Phaedrus. My grandfather is the last person I would ever think of to rely on his feelings like a romantic would. Like Phaedrus, he has a type of knife that he uses to takes things apart and admire the foundation of something (on a side note he used to be a carpenter).

When I asked him where motivation comes from he said it comes from the desire for rewards and achievement. He also said that motivation is the desire to be better, whether that is doing a better job or being a better person. I think these answers make him sound both like classical and like a romantic. Both desire to be the best that they can be, so these answers by themselves don’t really help me define what he is. However, it does show me that he does think like Phaedrus does. He showed that arête, or excellence, is the force that leads him to do things. Arête is where his motivation comes from. That’s why, as you could probably guess by now,...
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