Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Reconciliation of Western and Eastern Philosophy

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Reconciliation of Western and Eastern Philosophy

Length: 3023 words (8.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - The Reconciliation of Western and Eastern Philosophy


The differences in Western and Eastern philosophy are marked. Eastern thinking has slowly become “discovered” by the West; meanwhile, the development of Western thought and philosophy has come under close scrutiny by modern and postmodern philosophers and thinkers as being flawed at its core. The German philosopher Martin Heidegger came to the conclusion that “Western philosophy is a great error” (Barrett xi). The manner in which Western thought was founded, the course of its development, and its incursion into every facet of life in the Western world has been and is now being questioned on all fronts by leading critics and thinkers.

Robert Pirsig, in his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, describes in detail the development of the Western philosophical tradition, and how it has shaped Western society. In doing so, he offers a critique of certain aspects of Western thought that resulted from a momentous battle for the “mind of man” (Pirsig 381). What came about was a fragmenting of the mind from matter, of perception from experience. In addition to outlining the history and philosophy behind Western thinking, he offers a rediscovery of the very concept that got buried under the “rubble of declining Athens” and Rome, buried deeply under the new champions of Western man: Reason, Intellect, Knowledge (Pirsig 391). Pirsig cites Thoreau in writing, “You never gain something but that you lose something” (387). This applies with direct impact to Western development. In understanding the world through “dialectic truths” man lost the ability to understand how to be part of the world, and “not an enemy of it” (Pirsig 3...


... middle of paper ...


...not a divisive knife. It offers the ultimate solution to a fragmented mind, the dualistic world in which we live.

Works Cited

Barrett, William (ed.). Zen Buddhism: Selected Writings of D.T. Suzuki. New York: Doubleday, 1956.

Blatavasky, Madame. The Secret Doctrine. Vol. 1. Theosophy Publishing, 1888.

Capra, Fritjof. The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism. Boston: Shambhala Press, 1991.

Kant, Emmanuel. Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. Norman Kemp Smith. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1965.

Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching. Trans. Mitchell, Stephen. New York: HarperCollins Press, 1988.

Pirsig, Robert. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. New York: HarperCollins Press, 1974.

Sprague, Rosamund Kent (ed.). The Older Sophists. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1972.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Essay

- Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values Confronting crises of technological annihilation and personal madness, Robert Pirsig finds each to be a manifestation of a deeper crisis of Reason. In response) he suggests an alternative to our current paradigm of rationality, the "art of motorcycle maintenance." By showing that our understanding and performance derive from our emotional and evaluative commitments, he challenges the cultural commonplace which construes "subjective" states as distortions of "objective" reality....   [tags: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance]

Powerful Essays
5302 words (15.1 pages)

Essay on Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

-   "I suppose if I were a novelist rather than a Chautauqua orator I'd try to 'develop' the characters of John and Sylvia and Chris with action-packed scenes that would also reveal 'inner meanings' of Zen and maybe Art and maybe even Motorcycle Maintenance. That would be quite a novel, but for some reason I don't feel quite up to it. They're friends, not characters, and as Sylvia herself once said, 'I don't like being an object!' So a lot of things we know about one another I'm simply not going into....   [tags: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Essays]

Free Essays
943 words (2.7 pages)

Self-Discovery in Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

- He was a man in search of himself, a man not willing to follow the human race as it moved drearily on, a man who would not cease in his journey until he knew what truth and quality were. His expedition across American answered his inquiries. In actuality, he provided his own answers, solutions that would provide for the most important of all states: peace of mind. Such is the depth of discovery that a reader will find in Robert Pirsig's masterful innovation, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance....   [tags: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Essays]

Free Essays
981 words (2.8 pages)

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Essay

- Told by the blurb that we have here "one of the most unique and exciting books in the history of American letters," one bridles both at the grammar of the claim and at its routine excess. The grammar stays irreparable. But I have a hunch that the assertion itself is valid. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values, by Robert M. Pirsig (Morrow), is as willfully awkward as its title. It is densely put together. It lurches, with a deliberate shift of its grave ballast, between fiction and philosophic discourse, between a private memoir and the formulaic impersonality of an engineering or trade journal....   [tags: Philosophy Religion Essays]

Powerful Essays
1751 words (5 pages)

The Meanings and Concepts of Quality in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

- Robert Pirsig is an author who focuses on philosophical works, his most prominent being Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In this book, Pirsig writes about himself, his multiple personalities, and his son, Chris. The foundation of this book is his relationship with Chris and how he hopes to repair any damages between them. In his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig explores the meaning and concepts of Quality through the use of chautauquas and various literary techniques....   [tags: Robert Pirsig ]

Powerful Essays
1209 words (3.5 pages)

Quality Control: Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

- There exists one word that may just be the king of all misused words–the word that, more than any other, is used with complete disregard for and disinterest in its meaning. No, this is not a reference to literally, nor ‘legit,’ however deserving those words are of defense—this word is Quality. Some of the misuse lies in the basic distinction between quality and Quality with a capital ‘Q’, which can be cleared up quite succinctly. Little ‘q’ quality is attached to an object. It is the value of the object from a sum total of the value of the work that was put into it and of its composition....   [tags: attain quality, high quality products]

Powerful Essays
1027 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: Gateway to the Great Minds

- Peace of mind isn't at all superficial, really, I expound. It's the whole thing. That which produces it is good Maintenance; that which disturbs it is poor maintenance. What we call workability of the machine is just an objectification of this peace of mind. The ultimate test is always your own serenity. If you don't have this when you start and maintain it while your working, you're likely to build your personal problems right into the machine itself. (Pirsig 146) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, from which this quote is taken, is a complex story written by Robert Pirsig about a narrator's inquiry into the past intellectual and personal life of the man he once was...   [tags: Philosophy Religion Essays]

Powerful Essays
1518 words (4.3 pages)

Consilience, by Wilson, Life is a Miracle by Berry and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Pirsig

- The Philosophy of Science in Consilience, by E. O. Wilson, Life is a Miracle by Wendell Berry and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig Introduction The plot where the fields of science, ethics and religion intersect is fertile for study, and the crops it yields often represent the finest harvest of an individualís mind. In our time, modern philosophers of science have tilled this soil and reaped widely differing and important conclusions about the nature of humankind, its relationship to the natural world and the role that science should take in the discernment process....   [tags: Philosophy Term Research Papers]

Free Essays
5738 words (16.4 pages)

Zen Buddhist Perspectives on Modern Education Essay

- Zen Buddhist Perspectives on Modern Education ABSTRACT: Many articles and books on Buddhism have been published in recent years, but publications dealing with Buddhist educational views are rarely available. In this paper, I wish to expound on Zen Buddhist perspectives on modern education. The history of Buddhist education is long and complex. In early centuries (400 BCE- 800 CE), Buddhist monasteries in India and China functioned as educational centers where vinaya, sutras and other subjects were taught....   [tags: Educational Buddhist Zen Essays]

Powerful Essays
3345 words (9.6 pages)

Zen and the Art of William Shakespeare Essay

- Zen and the Art of Shakespeare         Like all Buddhism, Zen is a means by which one can achieve Buddha-consciousness, or in effect "total-consciousness." "Total-consciousness" means being aware of the true self and its role in regard to the infinite cosmos of all existence. This awareness allows one insight into or perhaps understanding of the Tao, the essential singularity to which all things belong. Understanding the Tao, for Taoists and Zen Buddhists alike, is the equivalent of Nirvana, loosely described as the utmost fulfillment of one’s existence....   [tags: Biography Biographies Essays]

Powerful Essays
2383 words (6.8 pages)