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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 1.319 Rezensionen
862 von 901 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Why I'm Writing Review Number 473 of a 30 year old book 3. November 2006
Von Gary R. Larson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
I'm compelled to write this review after browsing the others, because something has to be said about book that isn't being pointed out for someone who is interested in the book for the first time.

At this point, this book can be found on the front table in your local bookstore. Other philosophy books can be found in the philosophy section either collecting dust, or being perused by someone intensely interested in philosophy who is well versed in debates that have gone on for centuries.

I have listened to the author, Robert Pirsig, being interviewed, and it seems that he did, in fact, intend for this book and its premise of "Quality" to be the great, all encompassing philosophy, presented in a straightforward, readable manner. However, despite Pirsig's intention, that is not quite why this book has become so famous.

This book is famous because it fills a perfect niche in that it introduces some very complicated philosophical questions in a form that the common reader will find interesting. Pirsig is attempting to create a practical philosophy and sets the book against the background of actual experience to make the questions he ponders real for the reader.

With that in mind, if you are not clamoring for a debate with someone else who is knowledgable on the ins and outs of Kierkegaard and Spinoza and are simply looking for a readable book that makes a real attempt of answering the big questions in life, this book is for you.

What I find interesting, and somewhat disturbing, is that many choose to deride this book because it doesn't agree with their notions of philosopy, but fail to grasp that the people who are most likely to read this book won't even be at the table to understand their objections to it unless they read it.

Probably no book has ever been more successful in interesting people in philosophy in the first place. So why are people who are interested in the subject eager to send them away because it disagrees with something they read in some banal tome?

Bottom line, if you ran across this book at your local bookshop or had it recommended to you by a friend, you must read it. It is an awesomely thought inspiring book and asks questions you never thought to ask or at least didn't know how to put your finger on. It's both a good novel and a great introduction to philosophy for people who have an interest in greater questions but not all the time to pursue them. I don't think you should worry about the fact that someone with a Masters Degree in Philosophy, or an equivalent knowledge, is bothered by the book. Also, I wouldn't be thrown by the title. The book isn't trying to sell you a newsletter or convert you to any church (despite the use of the phrase "The Church of Reason") and is only using a bit of Zen philosophy as a grounding for its premise.

Pirsig's premise does have a tendency to never be overtly stated, but I believe that he does this because he doesn't want it overly simplified in the way I'm about to do it.

Pirsig's premise is that we live in a world of both the "Classical" and "Romantic" or, as I'll simplify it, "function" and "form", respectively. Pirsig sees the problems in our world as the result of an overemphasis on form, when function is more essential. However, pure "function" has problems of its own. For example, our bodily organs carry out the function of allowing us to live, but one doesn't really desire for our skin to be translucent so we can watch these functions. In fact, we would have a revulsion to such a thing. Therefore, we have a combination of both of "form" and "function"; our organs work very well without our having to see them. This is the desirable state. This desirable state is called "Quality". Good "function" seems to bring about its own desirable "form". May the decorative towel be damned. That's grossly oversimplified, but there it is.

Finally, one shouldn't be thrown off Pirsig's premise by the fact that, quite frankly, he tends to be an impatient father and not very easy to get along with. While reading the book, it becomes apparent that Pirsig is sharing this with us because he is oblivious to it himself. He makes it obvious that he doesn't understand why no one is pondering the philosophical implications of repairing a motorcycle or why his young son isn't arriving at all of the conclusions he is, despite the fact his son is eleven. He seems to be trapped in the context of his own view of the world.

So, if you want to wade your way through all of the pontificating, please take the time to read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". If you really, really like it, you'll have to read Pirsig's other book "Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals". Though "Lila" takes a narrative approach that's a bit less readable than "Zen and...", it gives a more comprehensive view of Pirsig's philosophy. Read both. Then you can debate with the philosophy majors.
418 von 473 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Over 2000 Years of Wisdom in 373 Pages 3. Mai 2000
Von Walter V. Cicha - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
In my (1/e)*100 years on this planet, during which I devoured at least ten times as many books, I have read only two more than once - "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" is one of them. In this monumental 1974 work, Robert Pirsig has achieved what few others have managed before him and, to the best of my knowledge, nobody else has accomplished since: a perfect unification of philosophy, adventure and mystery. His "Chautauqua," or traveling tale, takes the reader on a profound tour of ancient Greek philosophy, the steppes of Montana, and even a little bit of Zen Buddhism, with endless surprises and much original if not truly inspired thought along the way. Through his self-portrayal by means of the unforgettable and eerily enigmatic character Phaedrus, Mr. Pirsig shares his far-reaching search for the meaning of life, and himself. His fundamental concern is with the following seemingly simple but in effect infinitely complex question: "How can one distinguish "good" from "bad?" The question is posed and addressed in many different forms throughout the book, and in the process the concepts of truth, value and quality are dissected, reassembled, and again dissected and reassembled many times. Mr. Pirsig has an uncanny sense of timing, and he never allows the heavier passages to labor on too long. This is avoided by craftily interspersing his philosophical discourse amongst very down-to-earth and charming observations made during a motorcycle trip that takes the narrator and his seemingly troubled son Chris from the American Prairies to the Pacific, and forms the prevalent background for the entire "Chautauqua." "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" is a totally unique creation. Not being one to lend himself easily to corny clichés, I nevertheless believe that this is one book that definitely could dramatically change your life, whether or not you believe in Zen or have ever sat on a motorcycle. If you love somebody, buy them this book
148 von 167 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Well-written, thought-provoking, and courageous. 18. Dezember 2000
Von Michael Green - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
Part road novel, part philosophy, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance ("ZMM") met with huge critical and commercial success when first published in 1974. Narrator and son ride from Minneapolis to San Francisco; meanwhile, both are haunted by the narrator's past insanity, brought about by his "chasing the ghost of rationality". A series of philosophical monologues addresses questions both mundane - how to fix a motorcycle - and metaphysical.
Today ZMM retains a sizeable following, although criticism of it is very polarised: Pirsig's fervent self-assurance when dealing with philosophical questions converts some readers into "followers" and tends to exasperate everyone else. Mostly structured as a "solution" rather than an "inquiry", as the title claims, ZMM's philosophy is too often accepted without question, and it is frequently and regrettably true that the more positive the review, the more philosophically naïve the reviewer. Nonetheless, this should not disallow ZMM from being considered on its own merits.
ZMM is not an introductory philosophy text, more a "once-in-a-lifetime" philosophical statement; the comparison has already been made with Hofstadter's "Gödel, Escher, Bach", and Hofstadter's description - "a statement of my religion" - could well describe ZMM, too. When one considers the motivation required to sustain Pirsig's long and solitary struggle in writing and publishing ZMM, the rhetorical fervour of his arguments becomes more understandable. Those who attack Pirsig as pompous or narcissistic fail to appreciate the degree of self-belief needed to complete such a highly individualistic work. So, we can certainly admire him for trying - but is ZMM any good?
Some of Pirsig's arguments rest uneasily, such as his blithe acceptance of scientific relativism; and in rejecting subject-object dualism, he paints himself into some peculiar corners, such as his disquiet at the lack of beer cans littering Crater Lake National Park. But there is much in ZMM that is good and thought-provoking, too, especially where education is concerned: all teachers should read this book. And even during his tougher metaphysical monologues, only the driest, most rigid mindset could fail to find Pirsig's rhetoric engaging. Here, his wild claims about the importance of his philosophical arguments are gently counterbalanced by his acknowledged previous insanity: Pirsig takes care to label them the "ramblings of a madman", though not without a certain knowing irony.
ZMM is not just philosophy: it is also a fine piece of travel writing, and a history of Pirsig's teaching career. It remains a novel, however, and not an autobiography: whilst the events described did occur, subtle details have been changed. Most importantly, Robert Pirsig "the author" differs from the narrator, who in turn differs from his former personality ("Phaedrus"). The subtle conflict between the narrator's unifying philosophy, and the barely resolved tensions between narrator/Phaedrus and narrator/son, produces a fully intended irony. Criticism of the narrator is unfair and misguided when it is directed at the author.
Pirsig writes with great clarity. Well-structured sentences and careful use of italics give his writing great explanatory power, reminiscent, for this reviewer, of the biologist Richard Dawkins. We may not agree with Pirsig, but we are rarely in any doubt about what he means to say. Nonetheless, there are inevitable uncertainties at the core of ZMM, concerning reason and its limits. The antipsychiatric "insanity as enlightenment" nettle is never fully grasped, though one senses that this is Pirsig's belief; moreover, the analytic intractability of the Eastern philosophy that he embraces means that ultimately, the "inquiry" never reasons its way to an answer. Those seeking an absolutist metaphysical system will not find it here, and one can imagine Pirsig's sense of unease at becoming a latter-day religious guru.
ZMM is very much unique: four and a half years in the writing, but decades, one senses, in the germination. Fans will enjoy the 25 or so extra pages, cut from the original manuscript, available in DiSanto's "Guidebook to ZMM" - but skip the dreadful philosophy chapters. Pirsig wrote a sequel of sorts, "Lila", in 1991, but its sour atmosphere and slack reasoning make it strictly for the converted. Evidently Pirsig coped badly with his post-ZMM fame: one can imagine the sackloads of witless fan-mail. Unquestionably, for this reviewer, ZMM can stand alone: a model of clarity in written argument, a fine American road novel, and an inspiring demonstration of one man's ability to think for himself.
50 von 56 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
An Exhilarating Ride Well Worth Taking! 6. Januar 2001
Von Theodore G. Mihran - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
I first read this book in 1975. I particularly appreciated then the concrete illustrations used in the development of Pirsig's philosophy. However, I was not prepared at that time to follow the details of the logic used to develop his main point, namely, that in ancient Greece rationality had unfairly toppled mysticism as a valid source of knowledge.
I always intended to read the book again and finally last month I found an open week, bought a copy of the new 25th anniversary edition, and went at it. The text is unchanged in content but the print is larger and much easier to read than in my old paperback edition. The margins are wider and allow more annotations. It is well worth getting this Anniversary edition.
This time I got much deeper into Pirsig's main premise--the one noted above. Pirsig believes Quality to be the missing element in today's culture, but he says it must be kept undefined so that rationality will not be able to kill it again as it did thousands of years ago.
My major satisfaction from this novel still comes from the unusually perceptive and cleverly-wrought metaphors that Pirsig presents to advance his philosophical arguments. I have so many favorite ones it is difficult to choose among them. For instance, he labels the University as "Church of Reason," indicating it fanatical devotion to rationality at the expense of other values not approachable through rational means. No wonder professors of philosophy feel threatened. Rationality is their bread and butter!
Other illustrations: He compares the experience of looking out of a framed car window with the frameless view you get riding a motorcycle and uses this as an example of breaking down the subject/object boundary. He indicates that his objective is not to deal with "the 'news,' the silt of tomorrow" which accumulates when the river of culture bends, but to try to deepen the channels of "the best" that lies ahead along the river's future course. He likes to follow "an arrow that enlarges sideways in flight" rather then tracking its forward path in order to find "lateral truths" that point to falseness of axioms which prevent hitting the target. He points out that "institutions such as schools, churches, government, and political organizations of every sort all tend to direct thought for ends other than truth, namely, for the perpetuation of their own functions." I have often pondered this telling truth.
Ultimately, he finds Quality to be the uppermost element of the triad of truth--the creator of both subject and object, residing in the interface between the two. His comparison of Quality with the ancient text of the Tao is exhilarating!
The Quality of this novel is extraordinary for me. It exhibits many of the aspects of Quality in writing such as integrity, imagination, flux, continuity, suspense, insight, pathos, and allegory as it attempts to find the missing element in today's technology-dominated world. It is one of the five formative books in my life, and has a place on my "favorites" bookshelf next to Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" and the poems and essays of D.H. Lawrence.
42 von 47 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A Narrative and Philosophical Masterpiece 12. Juli 2000
Von william woolum - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
I first read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as a college senior twenty-five years ago. I remember then being frightened by how this man's determination to pursue a philosophical idea to its conclusion, even if it were against the grain of established conventions of thinking, drove him insane. I was afraid deeper study and questioning might do the same to me. I know now, however, that I'm not insane. I also know that twenty-five years ago this story of a man and his son travelling by motorcycle from Minnesota to the Pacific Ocean took deep residence in my soul.
I've been a teacher now for twenty-three years, long enough to forget some of my initial influences. But, as I read this book all these years later, I realized that my philosophical view points, examples I use to illustrate ideas with my students, what I believe the purpose of an education is, and several other bits of pedagogy and ideology originated in Pirig's story.
I highly recommend this book, maybe especially if you are unread in philosophy and would like a readable, enjoyable, and provocative entree into the history and vocabulary of philosophy.
It's a deeply moving, intellectually stiumlating story. Its devotion to story-telling and philosophical inpuiry is indeed most rare.
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