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Best Introduction to Western Philosophy,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Taschenbuch)
Despite the book's title, Pirsig's journey is primarily one through the history of Western philosophy, from the pre-Socratics through Plato, Aristotle, the 18th century empricists, and 19th century idealists. On this level alone, the book succeeds in being one of the most accessible and reliable treatments of the field. But the text is also a critique of the whole Western "logocentric" tradition, with its emphasis on reason, or "dialectic." Like Kant ("Critique of Pure Reason") or Kierkegaard ("Concluding Unscientific Postscript"), Pirsig uses reason to expose the limitations of reason. And what does he replace it with? Not Eastern mysticism or Zen riddles but rhetoric. More than the classic rhetoricians that Pirsig exhalts or the 20th-century structuralists and post-structuralists (Barthes, Derrida, Foucault) for which Pirsig's narrative is practically an illustration, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" makes the case for language as the basis for all reality, for all that we think, experience and perceive. It's this conflict between dialectic and rhetoric that drives the narrative, realized in plain yet compelling prose that's capable of staying with the attentive reader for the rest of his or her lifetime. After reading the book twice, I was unable to look at the self, the world, at all things constructed by language in quite the same way. The least successful parts of the book, it seems to me, are the narrator's protracted discussions of the nature of "reality" as a moment inaccessible to human intellect and his somewhat naive, 1960's-style musings on the nature of "quality." Supposedly his English composition students were immediately able to know it when they saw it, thereby making it unnecessary for him as a teacher to talk about "standards" or to establish criteria. (The suspicion arises that Pirsig hasn't had a great deal of experience teaching students how to write.) Nevertheless, even when a cylinder occasionally misfires, this is a book worth reading carefully and more than once. Unfortunately, because of its "cult" status, many people seem to purchase the text but never finish it. Robert Redford owns the screen rights, but a reader would be ill-advised to wait for the movie version. The "visual" elements of the text--the motorcyle odyssey and troubled father-son relationship--are minor metaphors compared to the ambitious and largely successful intellectual quest.