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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Robert Pirsig

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

by Robert Pirsig

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Robert Pirsig

5 min
3 key insights
Visual, audio & text

In this fictionalized biography, philosopher Robert Pirsig muses over the near-universal human struggle to accept and understand the role of new technologies in society.

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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

by Robert Pirsig

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Robert Pirsig

Overview

Robert Pirsig was a philosopher, professor, and author who focused on morals and 'quality' for the majority of his illustrious career. In this book, Pirsig considers the intricacies and contradictions of rational thought, weighed up within the context of a world of technology, during his 17-day motorcycle trip taken through the western U.S.

By examining a motorcycle technically and metaphysically, Pirsig uses the bike to serve as a conduit to an understanding of rationality and romanticism, and how to reconcile the two.

A long motorcycle ride pits the rider, technology, and nature in a visceral battle for control over one another, posits Pirsig. Nature provides obstacles and opportunities in the form of weather and terrain. The motorcycle and roads provide a clear but inflexible means of fast travel. Meanwhile, the rider is left to decide whether they are to be controlled by forces and machines beyond its comprehension or is themself a driving force aided by the surrounding world.

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"The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there."

Robert Pirsig

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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Robert Pirsig

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