Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals

10 Mar 2017

Written by the author of Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals is the next step in a philosophical system based on quality. This is the metaphysics that was missing from the former book. I feel the latter book stands by itself, but to really grasp what is going on it certainly was helpful to have read the first book.

The ideas in this book, like in Zen are in some sense obvious, in that if you try to explain them to someone else, they often look at you confused as to why you are so enthralled with this obvious explanation of life. Maybe that is what really feels like there is right here. The conflict between stability and dynamic quality, the necessity of both in bringing about positive change, is really clear if you explain it metaphorically. However, internalizing this idea is actually harder to nail down. For instance, quotes such as

Good is a noun

are concise, clear when you think about it a little bit, but harder to fully grasp when you really start to think deeply. Other ideas such as

Sanity is conforming to what is socially expected. Truth is sometimes in conformity, sometimes not.

are more plainly true and not that groundbreaking. The book is packed with quoteable tidbits, like

If ritual always comes first and intellectual principles always come later, then ritual cannot always be a decadent corruption of intellect. Their sequence in history suggests that principles emerge from ritual, not the other way around. That is, we don't perform religious rituals because we believe in God. We believe in God because we perform religous retuals.

Overall, I think this is a worthy followup to the first book, well worth the time spent reading it. There is a lot of heavy thinking that can happen if you want to invest the time in this book. A certain level of mental freedom is required to really juggle some of the ideas here because compared to the norm they can seem out there at times. I am pretty happy I read this even though it took longer than I would have thought.

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