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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (P.S.) (original 1974; edition 2008)

by Robert M. Pirsig

Series: Phaedrus (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,928165177 (3.85)198
Member:bradstreet2001
Title:Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (P.S.)
Authors:Robert M. Pirsig
Info:Harper Perennial Modern Classics (2008), Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Philosophy, mindfulness

Work details

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig (1974)

  1. 50
    Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford (prehensel)
  2. 00
    My Mercedes is Not for Sale: From Amsterdam to Ouagadougou...An Auto-Misadventure Across the Sahara by Jeroen van Bergeijk (gonzobrarian)
    gonzobrarian: an inquiry into travel, adventure, and meaning
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    A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz (jeff.s.thomson)
  4. 01
    Stranger in a Strange Land (uncut edition) by Robert A. Heinlein (emf1123)
    emf1123: If you're in your late teens, reading both of these books back to back (stranger in a strange land, zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance) is a good quality mindfuck. I doubt that either have the same influence as one ages, though.
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» See also 198 mentions

English (147)  Italian (5)  Finnish (4)  Dutch (4)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  French (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (165)
Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
I am torn between feeling a little disappointed that I either read this too late in history or too late in my own life for this book to be life-changing for me, and finding it hilarious that this guy takes four hundred pages to work his way toward basic Homeric pagan ethics. I mean. Not that Homeric pagan ethics are obvious to everyone, but when I got there I did kind of have to laugh.

It reads easy, for philosophy, and I enjoyed it for the most part. It did make me curious to go back and read Plato, so that's a plus, and I enjoyed following the process of thought. I suppose it's possible that I would really enjoy philosophy if I read more of it; I've never tried. ( )
  jen.e.moore | May 8, 2015 |
Didn't read this classic until recently. It was the perfect time. I'd taken a stand about lack of quality and lost. Pirsig reminded me that knowing and understanding the details of both system and its whole require hands on effort and commitment.

Failures in quality are peceptive. The viewer's perspective determines whether he/she sees these attributes or not. Empiricism is secondary. ( )
1 vote mielniczuk | Apr 22, 2015 |
This was a bizarre book and hard to follow but I'm glad I read it. It seemed to simultaneously tell the story of a father and son's motorcycle trip, relate the mental breakdown of a rhetoric professor, and provide philosophical insights from the author. Strangely, the father, the professor, and the author all seemed to be the same person.

I certainly learned more than I thought I would; about philosophy, rhetoric, and motorcycles. This was an enjoyable read and I'm planning on reading the sequel soon. ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
I didn't finish this - I think I was too young/naive.... I might try again if it ever falls into my hands.
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Read this 25 years ago... reading it again!
A good reminder that everyone has their own perspective, perception, understanding and experiences. None of which are worth less... or more than your own. ( )
  fgjohnson | Jan 6, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
One is tempted to call the book a psychomelodrama, for Pirsig's intentions are as extravagant as his themes. The attempt to triumph over madness, suicide, death in the self, of his son, for our world, by means of the patient exploration of ideas and emotions is certainly an extravagant ambition. That he succeeds in finding a plausible catharsis through such an enterprise seems to me sufficient reward for the author's perseverance, and ample testimony to his honesty and courage.
added by Shortride | editThe New York Times Book Review, Edward Abbey (pay site) (Mar 30, 1975)
 
Whatever it's true philosophical worth, it is intellectual entertainment of the highest order.
 
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Series (with order)
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Important events
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Awards and honors
Epigraph
And what is good, Phaedrus,

And what is not good -

Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?
Dedication
for my family
Aan mijn familie
First words
I can see by my watch, without taking my hand from the left grip of the cycle, that it is eight-thirty in the morning.
Quotations
You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It's easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally.
Live in the future, then build what's missing.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
Acclaimed as one of the most exciting books in the history of American letters, this modern epic became an instant bestseller upon publication in 1974, transforming a generation and continuing to inspire millions. This 25th Anniversary Quill Edition features a new introduction by the author; important typographical changes; and a Reader's Guide that includes discussion topics, an interview with the author, and letters and documents detailing how this extraordinary book came to be. A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, the book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions of 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, and humanism. Resonant with the confusions of existence, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a touching and transcendent book of life.

In his now classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig brings us a literary chautauqua, a novel that is meant to both entertain and edify. It scores high on both counts. Phaedrus, our narrator, takes a present-tense cross-country motorcycle trip with his son during which the maintenance of the motorcycle becomes an illustration of how we can unify the cold, rational realm of technology with the warm, imaginative realm of artistry. As in Zen, the trick is to become one with the activity, to engage in it fully, to see and appreciate all details--be it hiking in the woods, penning an essay, or tightening the chain on a motorcycle. In his autobiographical first novel, Pirsig wrestles both with the ghost of his past and with the most important philosophical questions of the 20th century--why has technology alienated us from our world? what are the limits of rational analysis? if we can't define the good, how can we live it? Unfortunately, while exploring the defects of our philosophical heritage from Socrates and the Sophists to Hume and Kant, Pirsig inexplicably stops at the middle of the 19th century. With the exception of Poincaré, he ignores the more recent philosophers who have tackled his most urgent questions, thinkers such as Peirce, Nietzsche (to whom Phaedrus bears a passing resemblance), Heidegger, Whitehead, Dewey, Sartre, Wittgenstein, and Kuhn. In the end, the narrator's claims to originality turn out to be overstated, his reasoning questionable, and his understanding of the history of Western thought sketchy. His solution to a synthesis of the rational and creative by elevating Quality to a metaphysical level simply repeats the mistakes of the premodern philosophers. But in contrast to most other philosophers, Pirsig writes a compelling story. And he is a true innovator in his attempt to popularize a reconciliation of Eastern mindfulness and nonrationalism with Western subject/object dualism. The magic of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance turns out to lie not in the answers it gives, but in the questions it raises and the way it raises them. Like a cross between The Razor's Edge and Sophie's World, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance takes us into "the high country of the mind" and opens our eyes to vistas of possibility. --Brian Bruya
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060589469, Mass Market Paperback)

In his now classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig brings us a literary chautauqua, a novel that is meant to both entertain and edify. It scores high on both counts.

Phaedrus, our narrator, takes a present-tense cross-country motorcycle trip with his son during which the maintenance of the motorcycle becomes an illustration of how we can unify the cold, rational realm of technology with the warm, imaginative realm of artistry. As in Zen, the trick is to become one with the activity, to engage in it fully, to see and appreciate all details--be it hiking in the woods, penning an essay, or tightening the chain on a motorcycle.

In his autobiographical first novel, Pirsig wrestles both with the ghost of his past and with the most important philosophical questions of the 20th century--why has technology alienated us from our world? what are the limits of rational analysis? if we can't define the good, how can we live it? Unfortunately, while exploring the defects of our philosophical heritage from Socrates and the Sophists to Hume and Kant, Pirsig inexplicably stops at the middle of the 19th century. With the exception of Poincaré, he ignores the more recent philosophers who have tackled his most urgent questions, thinkers such as Peirce, Nietzsche (to whom Phaedrus bears a passing resemblance), Heidegger, Whitehead, Dewey, Sartre, Wittgenstein, and Kuhn. In the end, the narrator's claims to originality turn out to be overstated, his reasoning questionable, and his understanding of the history of Western thought sketchy. His solution to a synthesis of the rational and creative by elevating Quality to a metaphysical level simply repeats the mistakes of the premodern philosophers. But in contrast to most other philosophers, Pirsig writes a compelling story. And he is a true innovator in his attempt to popularize a reconciliation of Eastern mindfulness and nonrationalism with Western subject/object dualism. The magic of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance turns out to lie not in the answers it gives, but in the questions it raises and the way it raises them. Like a cross between The Razor's Edge and Sophie's World, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance takes us into "the high country of the mind" and opens our eyes to vistas of possibility. --Brian Bruya

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:47 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

The novel, published in 1974, uses a long motorcycle trip to frame a prolonged exploration of the world of ideas, about life and how best to live it. It references perspectives from Western and Eastern Civilizations as it explores the central question of the how to pursue technology so that human life is enriched rather than degraded. Narrated in the first person, it incorporates a parallel presentation of trip details and an ongoing retrospective concerning dramatic events from the Narrator's past, creating rich symbolism and including numerous analogies reinforcing the overall theme of coming to terms with the mysteries of why we exist and how best to live.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

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