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Paperback Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : An Inquiry into Values Book

ISBN: 0060839872

ISBN13: 9780060839871

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : An Inquiry into Values

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

A penetrating examination of how we live and how to live better A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions on how to live. The narrator's relationship with his son leads to a powerful self-reckoning; the craft of motorcycle maintenance leads to an austerely beautiful process for reconciling science, religion,...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

I guess I'm the one person who hated it

I read this book after hearing rave reviews from family and friends. I found the narrator annoyingly self-absorbed and clueless. He ignored his young son, who was obviously just desperate for Dad's attention, until the end of the book. His essay on "quality" was meaningless to me. The only interesting part was his discussion of motorcycle mechanics.

Philosophical / Semiautobiographical Tract

Robert M. Pirsig's seminal work - "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" - is absolutely phenomenal in the German language! "Zen und die Kunst ein Motorrad zu warten" is a truly great achievement; the technical language of true motorcycle maintenance and the philosophical passages are crystallized so beautifully in German.

An Exhilarating Ride Well Worth Taking!

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,

A Narrative and Philosophical Masterpiece

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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