Lila: An Inquiry into Morals

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Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. (Oct.)
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553299618
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/28/1992
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 223,719
  • Product dimensions: 4.16 (w) x 6.85 (h) x 1.29 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2002

    Without a doubt the most amazing book I have ever read

    Lila is even better than Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It is worth the time investment a hundred times over. I am a lifelong learner who reads as much as possible, and this is the best book I've ever read. It is thoughtful, valuable, and life-changing. It manages to totally reorient the way you understand reality in a deeply valuable way. Pirsig is truly a revolutionary philosopher. I had to put my pen down because I had the impulse to underline every passage!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2000

    An exciting meta-intellectual experience

    Pirsig/Phaedrus' further work on defining the undefinable 'quality' is not just an object called a book which you read subjectively. It is an experience in expanding your views of reality. While telling the story of Phaedrus and Lila, the book discusses American Indians, social anthropology, the history of science, and many other topics that shape our world today. Yet Pirsig leads you through the story from within the philosopher Phaedrus' mind. I would imagine that an outline for this book would be as long as the book itself -- but somehow, the information and thoughts just seem to flow naturally. <br><br> Read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance first -- better introduction is given there to the terminology he uses throughout Lila.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2000

    Life-changing!

    Pirsig doesn't disappoint with the intriguing follow-up to 'Zen...Motorcycle Maintenance.' Further investigation leads Phaedrus to delve into the metaphysics of Quality, which ultimately underscores existence, and undermines the prevalent subject-object dichotomy of which we are accustomed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2009

    almost as good as Zen and the Art

    Almost as good as Zen and the Art

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    Posted October 11, 2009

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