On Quality: An Inquiry Into Excellence


A post-humous selection of writings related to quality by Robert Pirsig, author of Zen And the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila

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Key Takeaways

  1. Pirsig’s goals with his books was to raise people’s awareness of quality to its central place
  2. I want to emphasize that when that idea came, there was no preparation for it. It arrived out of my own circumstances, rather than out of a deliberate desire on my part to sit down and write. I wasn’t being separate from what I was doing; this was arising out of what I was doing.
  3. Write about what you know. If you do that well enough, it’ll be exotic enough for others
  4. In any creative project, you can’t imagine what the end is going to be, unless it is a very small thing you’re doing
  5. Normally one’s ability to see what is good marches far ahead of one’s ability to produce it
  6. The ultimate goal in the pursuit of excellence is enlightenment. After that there are no goals, for one realizes emotionally as well as intellectually that all experience is of equal quality
  7. Quality = in tune with reality
  8. Quality, selection, creates the world
  9. I used to give students the advice, “First you just ‘see’ what has quality, then you figure out why. Do’t reverse the process, or you will get all confused”…
  10. The difference between a good mechanic and a bad one, like the difference between a good mathematician and a bad one, is precisely this ability to select the good facts from the bad ones on the basis of quality. He has to care! This is an ability about which formal traditional scientific method has nothing to say
  11. Whatever we love has quality, whatever has quality we love. They always go together.
  12. You can ‘practice’ and find quality in all that you do
  13. Quality is at the center of existence, self-evident to all
  14. Dharma = Quality = Duty to self and a duty to quality
  15. Zen meditation is the best route to discovery Quality

What I got out of it

  1. A beautiful, inspiring book. Short snippets on Pirsig’s expanded thoughts on Quality and how his books and philosophy came to be

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