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Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals Mass Market Paperback – Nov 1 1992

4.2 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (Nov. 1 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553299611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553299618
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 3.3 x 17.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Seventeen years after the publication of his still-popular road story/philosophical meditation, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance , Pirsig offers another lengthy and absorbing investigation of how we can live well and rightly. Phaedrus, the one-named narrator "who had written a whole book on values," is sailing down the Hudson River when he meets Lila Blewitt, an unapologetically sexual, psychologically unstable woman whom a mutual friend warns him against. But Phaedrus is drawn to her physically and interested in her intellectually, finding her "a culture of one" in whom he discerns an unexpected "Quality." Sailing with him to Manhattan, where her mental state deteriorates further, Lila prompts Phaedrus to explore conflicts of values like those between Native Americans and Europeans or between the insane and the normal. Finally, after years of struggling, he formulates his "Metaphysics of Quality" which offers a system of understanding--and evaluating--actions according to a hierarchy of four evolutionary realms (natural, biological, social and intellectual). Though Lila's fate is left unresolved, Pirsig's wide-ranging philosophical explorations will provoke and engage readers.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Pirsig's newest work continues in the same philosophical vein as his earlier books, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance ( LJ 10/15/74) and Guide book to "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" ( LJ 10/15/90). Lila is a novel-cum-philosophical tome that wrestles with the issues and problems of life in the Nineties. Phaedrus, the principle character, is a writer grappling with his latest treatise, the "metaphysics of Quality." Lila, his aging and desperate wharf-bar pickup, provides the right amount of antagonism and criticism to hone his ruminations of life and civilization to something understandable and real. Pirsig has some fairly interesting ideas, but his evasiveness in defining his version of "quality" early on may lose some readers. His transition from the novel format to the philosophy lesson is uneven and distracting at times. However, his observations lead to some surprising revelations. Readers familiar with his earlier work will want this. Recommended.
- Kevin M. Roddy, Oakland P.L., Cal.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
There's something about reading Robert Pirsig's Lila that reminds me of listening to Steely Dan records. Everything seems to be mastered, the writing is tight and it allows Pirsig to zone off into what can either be described as self-indulgent tengents or brilliant essays on metaphysics - just like those extended solos and cryptic lyrics on albums like Aja. But like Steely Dan, there's also a cold, almost clinical atmosphere to Pirsig's character Phaedrus. If you're like me you can indulge Pirsig a bit just as much as you can put on a Steely Dan record.
There really isn't any other author I've encountered quite like Pirsig, and that's a good thing. On the surface this is the story of Phaedrus, a man who's written a novel - Zen and the Art, it seems - that has given him fame but also turned him into a recluse. He's traveling alone down a river in upstate New York when he ends up picking up a woman. That woman, Lila, becomes the focus of his wandering search for a more inclusive system of thinking. He calls this system the Metaphysics of Quality and it resembles a computer program in its design. The book then alternates between the story of Phaedrus and Lila (who increasingly is revealed to be mentally ill) and Phaedrus's (sometimes ingenious) musings.
Sleek, well-written, fascinating but also cold and indulgent, I'd recommend Lila to those who aren't bloody-well annoyed when a Steely Dan record comes on.
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By A Customer on Feb. 28 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's not often that someone with a New York Times bestseller (Zen and the Art...) gets a million dollar offer to write a sequel but declines and instead waits 20 years when he has something to say.
Pirsig's second book "Lila" takes the question of 'Quality' posed in his first book "Zen.." and explores it further. The answers he comes up with are nothing short of genius. His static/dynamic interplay has all the hallmarks of the Tao's yin/yang balance of forces inherent within nature.
Though the story itself and the character development leave much to be desired, the ideas and philosophy presented in this book is bang on. Like in science and mathematics, the litmus test of a good philosophy is its simplicty and its wide applicability. Pirsig's philosophy can be applied to everything from music, art, morals, chess, biology, psychology, religion and sociology. I haven't seen any other philosophy with this range.
Highly recommended.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pirsig is the author of the cult classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In that volume, written in 1974, he used his knowledge of classical philosophy to propose an explanation for the disconnect between the emerging humanist values of the hippie generation and the more traditional, black-and-white views of their parents. ZAMM is a ripping good read and a pretty good introduction to some of the philosophy at the core of Western civilization.
Lila is the long-awaited sequel to ZAMM. In it, the author continues to mine philosophies of the past and apply them to current questions and problems. In particular, Lila is concerned with ethics and morals. These fields are traditionally linked to philosophy. They are primarily concerned with the difference between good and evil and determination of how one ought to act in different circumstances.
Lila is not, frankly, as good a read as ZAMM. (Few books are.) But the ideas it presents are just as important and maybe more applicable to daily life. This book is a fitting sequel, and every fan of ZAMM should read it. But they shouldn't expect to enjoy it quite as much.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
After ZAMM Lila is a different flavour, but just as interesting and inspiring. For me Pirsig fights for the under dog, and sometimes in this world, thats all you need to do. Put your hand up and say, "wait wait that's not right". There's a few reviewers vehemently ripping into Pirsig, it's great, he love's it I'm sure. Pirsig says that his MOQ deals with things better than the standard dualistic metaphysics, he draws a few conclusions that are quesionable, but all conclusions on ethics and morals are questionable, it's doesn't stop the fact that his MOQ is fundamentally more useful than western dualism in some situations. Try explaining a city to a child in terms of Subjects and Objects, and then try with Patterns of Value. The MOQ doesn't create the conclusions its another useful tool available to the open minded, Pirsig's not forcing anyone to use it.
I guess people are reading this like a text book, one reviewer even complained that there's no foot notes, the book is not a textbook. Pirsig has to shoot down his opponents to make his point, it's unfair maybe but it's life. If you make a point and then say, "of course this could all be rubbish, it's just an idea", people won't have confidence in what you're saying and won't publish your book. The one star mob and the academics wanted Pirsig to right a text book so they could burn it. He didn't he wrote a book about one mans ideas and most people including myself think it's another brilliant book.
Wright or wrong Pirsig is dynamic, he's trying to push philosophy either upward toward further evolution or accidentally into degeneracy, but without people like Pirsig life would be very boring. The one star mob should concentrate on their own books.
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