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10 quotes from one of the greatest American writers and philosophers of the 20th century

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Robert Pirsig

Robert M. Pirsig is the author of only two books - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974) and Lila: An Inquiry into Morals (1991). Someone could say: Well, then what is so special about him? There were other incredible minds in the States and they were definitely more prolific writers. It could be regarded as impossible but inside these two books, Pirsig managed to say more than other writers in 30 volumes. He was able to synthesize the inconceivable number of theories, researches, and personal experiences that he had gone through during his long life in less than 1000 pages. And that is not because he had nothing more to say. Matter of fact, the biography of Robert Pirsig is quite interesting. He was a prodigy child who had an alleged IQ of 170 at the age of nine. Several years later he graduated high school at the age of 14. He studied Biochemistry, entered the U.S. Army, which brought him to South Korea and when he came back to the States he became a professor at the age of 30, teaching creative writing. At the age of 33, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was treated with electroconvulsive therapy on numerous occasions. One of his sons – Chris – who is a main character in his first book, got stabbed to death at the age of 22. And while all of that happened, Pirsig never stopped his ardent and vigorous researches into the essence of quality, metaphysics, truth, and existence in general.

Here are some of the pearls that crystallized inside his two books:

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Thoughts to reflect on: I think, therefore I am

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Rene Descartes

Arguably, the most famous philosophical quote ever – I think, therefore I am (cogito ergo sum), which is considered to be the foundation of the Modern Philosophy and thought, belongs to the French philosopher Rene Descartes (31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650). Renatus Cartesius (his Latinized name) was as well a prominent and influential mathematician and scientist, who is the founder of the Cartesian coordinate system, praised as the first systematic bridge between geometry and algebra.

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The Four Idols of the mind

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Francis Bacon and the New Organon

Francis Bacon (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626) has greatly benefited and influenced the scientific world. He is called the father of empiricism. In his most ambitious project - New Organon - he develops the experimental method as we know it today. The Organon seeks to perfect Aristotelian logic by presenting a new logical method. Bacon thinks about his work as an "instrument for rational thinking" because it presents a carefully- and exhaustively-defined process that any scientific investigator can follow. He claims that only through the inductive method we could understand and gain sure knowledge about the essence of nature. One should trust his perception only when it is concerned with the results of a specific experiment. The more experiments, the more particular truths about the natural phenomena we have collected. Then by induction, the scientist should relate pieces to each other and put them together to form a more general conclusion, hypotheses, or theories. Although this methodology falls short because it excludes deduction or the reversed process, that was a big step for the scientific world in order to clarify its own ground for more reliable sources of knowledge. However, modern scientists take that achievement for granted. But Bacon's Organon wasn't only a book discussing logic and methodology. Actually, it was supposed to purge Science from both natural, logical, and linguistic human prejudices and limitations. To achieve this, a scientist should, before all, clear his mind from the idolatry of his own beliefs. Here are the four idols that anyone who seeks unbiased reasoning should fight:

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