Sight Unseen; Concepts of
Evolution in the Metaphysics of Quality By Dan Glover
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities,
but in the expert's there are few."
In a previous paper Force
of Value in the Metaphysics of Quality I introduced the notion of
as a working concept within Robert M. Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality,
as outlined in his novel Lila; An Inquiry into Morals. Here I would like
to expand that idea into a conceptual complementary framework of Dynamic
Quality evolutionary values driving the four static levels of static quality
everyday reality. These forces of value are identified by Pirsig like this:
Biological and social and intellectual patterns are not the
possession of substance. The laws that create and destroy
these patterns are not the laws of electrons and protons, and other elementary
particles. The forces that create and destroy these patterns are the
forces of value. 
Using this paragraph as a clue to begin expanding the concept of force
of value, or value force, in the Metaphysics of Quality, I envisioned a
"positive" and a "negative" side to Dynamic Quality, something we normally
think of as synonymous with "good" and "evil" in our Western culture. Since
"the laws that create and destroy these patterns are not the laws of electrons
and protons" I feel the inorganic level is basically beyond any conceptual
framework we can use to describe it, as quantum theorists discovered earlier
this century. Therefore it is of value to ignore this level as far as value
force is concerned, and simply focus upon the biological, social and intellect
levels within the Metaphysics of Quality.
I soon realized that these value forces are what drives the evolutionary
values of those three static patterns of value. A second clue was provided
by my work putting together a paper comparing the teachings of the
Yaqui Indian named Juan Matus, as decried by Carlos Castaneda, called Quality
is a Good Dog. In making his "division" of reality into the
and the nagual, don Juan Matus uses Occam's razor in the very same
place that Pirsig does in his Metaphysics of Quality. Furthermore, don
Juan tells us:
... [don Juan] explained that every human being had two sides,
two separate entities, two
counterparts which became operative at the time of birth. one was called
the 'tonal' and the
other the 'nagual'. ... He smiled and winked at me.
"I am using your own words now," he said.
"The tonal is the social person. ... the tonal is, rightfully
so, a protector, a guardian - a guardian that most of the time turns into
a guard. ... The tonal is the organizer of the world, perhaps the
best way of describing its monumental work is to say that on its shoulders
rests the task of setting the chaos of the world in order. ... The tonal
is everything that we are; name it! Anything we have a word for is the
"The tonal is an island. ... the tonal is like the top
of this table. There is a personal tonal for each of us, and there
is a collective one for all of us at any given time ...
"The nagual on the other hand is the part of us which we do not
deal with at all. ... the nagual is the part of us for which there
is no description- no words, no names, no feelings, no knowledge. ... I
have named the tonal and the nagual as a true pair. That
is all I have done."
Here I saw the importance attached to our cultural values was of primary
concern in understanding the teachings of don Juan. This too seems
of equal importance in the Metaphysics of Quality. Our everyday reality
consists of the culture in which we are immersed. It follows that these
patterns of value that make up the culture, or social level in the Metaphysics
of Quality, are creative forces of value. The intellect level, on the other
hand, is in seeming contradiction to these positive value forces and therefore
must be the negative side of Quality. Together, the social and intellect
patterns of value work as a struction, a complementary pair of values,
of which the highest value is contained within the intellect level.
This provides a clue as to the evolutionary processes that occur within
our society. Every good idea seems to be a destruction of an existing
meme. Our society evolves at a seemingly much faster rate than do biological
patterns of value. In the biological level, the forces of creation and
destruction are in a seeming balance. Using all these clues, I have attempted
to put together a graph, illustrating the concepts of evolutionary value
forces in the Metaphysics of Quality.
Value Force in the Metaphysics of Quality
It is my hope that this graph illustrates in some fashion the complementary
nature of value forces as they move towards Dynamic Quality, which is forever
just beyond the edge of our perception. The wave pattern is only apparent
at as an overview of all four levels of the Metaphysics of Quality. If
any particular level is isolated for observation, the wave pattern turns
into an individualistic particle pattern. This has very obvious connections
with the framework
of complementarity, as advanced by Niels Bohr earlier this century.
The inorganic level is simply represented by the center line in the
graph. From the inorganic level springs the force of value we associate
with the life force of the biological level. This level contains both forces
of creation and Discreation, mingled together in a complexly related dance.
And from the biological level springs the creative force of the social
level. Once this social level has been created however, the only way it
can continue its advance towards Dynamic Quality is to undergo destruction
by the discreative force of the intellect level. When the "wave" remains
in an ever continuous, synchronous movement towards freedom, evolution
unfolds in the static patterns of value these forces flow through. But
a stoppage at any point within the three levels of static patterns of value
results in a breaking of the wave. A stasis, or a perceived evil occurs.
This requires a drastic revision of the way we conceive of our everyday
reality in terms of good
and evil as we normally think of them in our Western culture. It also
uncovers clues to why the intellect has been persecuted over the centuries
in many societies seeking to retain the status quo, like the old
U.S.S.R. The Socialist State failed to consider the destructive nature
of the intellect as containing value and instead attempted to control society
by creating "restrictions" to keep the supposed degenerates in line.
However, these "restrictions that stop the degenerates also stop the creative
Dynamic forces of evolution" and ensured the extinction of that state.
The old values simply died of old age. It seems that since there was no
Dynamically inspired revolution in the old U.S.S.R., but only a withering
of old values, that society is still suffering through tumultuous times.
This may have ramifications in the biological level as well. At this
particular moment in time, no new species are coming into being around
us. From the geological records, it is becoming more and more apparent
that new species only arise after a global catastrophe, like the
asteroid which struck the earth some 65 million years ago, wiping out the
dinosaurs and clearing the way for the domination of the mammals. It has
been confirmed unambiguously that just such an occurrence indeed took place,
although the jury is still out as to why, after such a catastrophe, such
a profusion of new lifeforms sprang into being, seemingly overnight.
Some evolutionary researchers have been using bacteria to simulate the
process our own species may have went through to reach the state we presently
find ourselves. Here are some extracts from an article in the New Scientist
magazine concerning such research:
EVOLUTION is history. Not dead, terminated, finito, you
understand, but rather the unfolding
story of life on Earth. And as in
any history, chance plays a role.
Just as it is impossible to know if
the First World War would still
have started if Archduke Francis
Ferdinand's driver had not made
a wrong turn in Sarajevo, so it is
impossible to say what life would
have been like if, for example, the
age of dinosaurs had not ended
Or is it? Some evolutionary biologists
think there is more to evolution
than mere history. Not content
with sifting through the fossil record
and looking for clues about the
past by analyzing the way things are
today, they are studying evolution
in action in the lab. Here, the
researchers can replay the tape
of life over and over, tweak the
environment and see how species
adapt in response. They can chart
changes in organisms over thousands
of generations and watch as
brand new creatures evolve over
days, not millennia. They can even
test how evolution affects a species'
ability to survive by making it
compete with its ancestors.
For the past few years such experiments
have been going on in a
handful of labs. Tiny test tube
worlds populated by microbes are
shedding new light on the fundamental
forces that shape all living
things. They are giving insights
into questions such as what happens
after a mass extinction, how life
adapts successfully to a myriad of
environments, and whether adapting
to one environment restricts an
organism's ability to adapt to
another. These studies have led some
researchers to draw surprising
conclusions about the role of past
events in evolution--and even
about whether or not the appearance
of intelligent life is inevitable.
Paul Rainey's lab at the University
of Oxford is home to vast
numbers of wrinkly and fuzzy spreaders.
These are not characters
from a B movie or escapees from
a virtual world, but genetically
discrete varieties of a common
bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens.
In the outside world these microbes
live on leaves and clump
together in smooth circular colonies.
By contrast, in the lab, wrinkly
spreaders form relatively large
colonies with irregular convoluted
surfaces, while clusters of fuzzy
spreaders look more spherical but
with an indistinct, fuzzy edge.
Rainey, Michael Travisano, who
has just moved to the University of
Houston, and their colleagues
produced the two new varieties simply
by growing P. fluorescens in a
novel environment of nutrient-rich
broth. "To the leaf colonising
bacteria it's a pristine environment--a bit
like the world after a major extinction
event," says Rainey. "The
bacteria have lots of opportunity
Rainey's reference to mass extinction
is no accident. Life on Earth
has gone through at least five
such catastrophic events, in which up
to 95 per cent of all species
were lost in the geological blink of an
eye. But every time, life bounced
back with greater variety than
before as new species exploited
new ecological opportunities. And
that is exactly what happens in
Rainey's test tubes. After just one
week, P. fluorescens evolves into
both wrinkly and fuzzy spreaders.
What's more, no matter how many
times the team repeats the
experiment, by day seven the smooth
morph is always sharing its
world with the two spreaders.
The new environment leads to
diversity or, as biologists say,
there has been adaptive radiation.
Charles Darwin was the first to
highlight the importance of adaptive
radiation in the formation of
new species, with his study of
Galápagos finches. In this
case, a single species from mainland South
America colonized the Galápagos
Islands. There it gradually
diversified into several varieties
with distinctive beaks specialized for
harvesting the different foods
available on different islands. Isolated
on different islands, each variety
maintained and increased its
distinctiveness. Today there are
Speciation is a combination of
adaptive radiation and sexual isolation,
either in space--like the finches--in
time, or through divergent sexual
practices. Most bacteria rarely
have sex, so they reveal little about
sexual isolation. But, says Rainey,
bacteria are good models for
helping to tease out exactly what
drives adaptive radiation.
Ecological opportunity is one spur.
Like Darwin's finches, Rainey
and Travisano's bacteria are adapted
to a specialized lifestyle, or
niche. This is easily seen in
the test tube world because each morph
occupies a distinct habitat. Wrinklies
tend to clump together on the
surface of the broth, fuzzies
are bottom dwellers, while the ancestral
smooth morph lives suspended throughout
the liquid. "There is rapid
evolution and niche specialization
when the environment into which
the bacteria are introduced is
rich in available niches," says Rainey.
"It's a very powerful effect."
As well as the spreaders, other morphs
evolve from time to time, including
one specialized to living at the rim
and others that appear as the
resident populations change the balance
of nutrients in the broth.
Showing that ecological opportunity
is a primary cause of adaptive
radiation was simplicity itself.
The team grew the same bacteria in
the same broth under identical
conditions, but eradicated ecological
opportunity by shaking the broth.
Without the different habitats
offered by the undisturbed environment,
no new morphs evolved.
The second force behind adaptive
radiation that Rainey and
colleagues have studied is competition.
A microbe can diversify as
much as the random mutation of
its genes will allow, but unless a
new morph has a competitive edge
over other forms it will not make
it into life's doomsday book.
Since Darwin's time, competition has
been considered pivotal to diversification.
Yet proving its precise role
has turned out to be difficult,
and considerable controversy surrounds
its importance. (full article
may be read here.)
Now, no one is saying our own culture is as simple as the culture of
bacteria the researchers grew. But there are no doubt some similarities
to how each has come to evolve. There is no doubt that natural selection
plays a role in both biological and social evolution. But the role of what
the researchers called "adaptive radiation" is little understood at this
time. It would seem that the two concepts of natural selection and adaptive
radiation are actually complementary in the process of evolution that led
to the myriad species alive on earth today, and how society has evolved.
Natural selection seems to be a gradual, continuous process, while adaptive
radiation occurs only in catastrophic situations.
This leads to the inevitable conclusion that world-wide catastrophes
are only low value situations from a static quality point of view. In fact,
it may well turn out to be that periodic renewal of the earth is the natural
order of things, and that should neo-sapiens evolve one day, it will only
be in response to another giant rock striking the earth and wiping out
90% of the existing lifeforms in existence, thereby allowing new (and better?)
species to propagate via adaptive radiation. From the point of view of
Dynamic Quality, these catastrophes are high value situations.
By recognizing value force as a complement to the static quality patterns
of value which comprise our everyday reality, evolutionary concepts in
the Metaphysics of Quality begin to explain many of the problems that traditional
subject/object thinking fails to answer. Evolution as we understand it
is only viewed from a static quality point of view, since that is the only
concept we can use in describing it.
And it is only viewed retrospectively. Since Dynamic Quality is outside
time, so to speak, and outside our our conceptual range of experience,
these value forces are not any kind of energetic processes that we are
aware of, or can become aware of at some time in the future. There would
seem to be a correlation between Rupert Sheldrake's morphogenetic field
theory, advanced in his book Morphic
Resonance; A New Science of Life and the notion of Dynamic Quality,
viewed as value forces of creation and discreation.