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Lila: An Inquiry into Morals

Lila: An Inquiry into Morals

4.3 10
by Robert M. Pirsig

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The author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance examines life's essential issues as he recounts the journey down the Hudson River in a sailboat of his philosopher-narrator Phaedrus.


The author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance examines life's essential issues as he recounts the journey down the Hudson River in a sailboat of his philosopher-narrator Phaedrus.

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.

Product Details

Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 2.75(h) x 6.30(d)

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Lila: An Inquiry into Morals 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.

Read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance first -- better introduction is given there to the terminology he uses throughout Lila.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
WorldReader1111 More than 1 year ago
I liked this book, mostly. 'Lila' is an oddity, for it is both a very good book and a very bad one, depending on how you look at it. As a novel, the book is, in my opinion, of below-average quality, since it is so obviously an expository philosophical work, thinly disguised as fiction. Plus, with its bland, uninspired plot, one-dimensional characters, and a generally aimless story (or so I read it as, at least), 'Lila' just did not work for me in a literary capacity. At times, I sensed that the author attempted to weave the fictional and philosophical threads together, as to build upon one another into a greater, coherent whole; but, if this was indeed the author's intent, it ultimately just didn't click, and so remained a literary failure one way or another. As philosophy, however, 'Lila' is altogether different, for it is highly substantial in this regard. These philosophical musings, which are a continuation of the author's previous book (and which comprise upwards of 90% of the 'Lila' text), are equal parts profound, insightful, and wise (at times remarkably so, stating powerful truths that I've rarely seen repeated outside of my own thoughts and observations). In fact, I was, overall, rather impressed with the author's discourse and conclusions, for much of it accorded with my life experience, as to echo my own personal beliefs at this point in time (albeit in different terms). As it were, I found the vast majority of 'Lila's' arguments and logic to be quite sound, not to mention very intelligent and perceptive (as well as comprehensive, at times bordering on the limits of language and conveyance); really, if I encountered any disagreement with my own findings, it was only on minor points. Another thing I admired about this book was its calm, genuine tone, which managed to be sober and grounded yet deeply inquisitive (and which waxed poignant and poetic at times, lending a human texture). If I had to list negatives about the book, they would be, first, its schizophrenic literary/non-literary execution (which, besides being dysfunctional, I personally didn't appreciate, having been sold a philosophical book disguised as a novel). Second, it would be that 'Lila' succumbs to philosophy's oldest, Catch-22-like trap: that once one attempts to describe Ultimate Truth (or "God," or "Reality," or whatever you want to call It), one is no longer describing Ultimate Truth, for It beggars all language (or any known human expression period, as it were). Ironically, the author himself states this in the book itself (in so many words), yet continues to devote the rest of the text to more of the same, flawed description, thus entangling even his Metaphysics of Quality in the quagmire of linguistic shortcomings and semantic misunderstandings. Though, this is, I suppose, more an observation (or a disclaimer) than a complaint, given that it is, simply, the present state of the written word. After all, a flawed philosophical treatise is better than nothing at all, especially one so rich and valuable as 'Lila.' All in all, I'm glad I read this book. Despite its imperfection, I finished it feeling satisfied and inspired (in addition to affirmed, as can come only from seeing one's deepest thoughts and feelings repeated from an independent source). My sincere thanks goes out to this book's author, subjects, and publisher. I am grateful for, and have benefited from, your work and service.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She pads in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Trots in and looks off the small ledge at a clearing below.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Almost as good as Zen and the Art