Considering the far-from-stellar BPAL scents yesterday makes for a great segue into a general consideration of the metaphysics of quality.  They help me get on-point. 

The word quality is broadly used and often misused; atrociously so in Modern Medicine, which uses the sham construct Quality Metrics to cover up the cheapening of care. The word can refer to-

  • A global, holistic attribute of the amount of self-evident value, e.g. “Now that is a quality peach!”  It means that its Form allows for Goodness or Excellence. This is other than Perfection, which is the fidelity of resemblance of the individual to the Form.
  • A definable manifestation of a nominal characteristic.  “Peaches have the quality of smelling like fruit.”
  • A ranked metric of such a characteristic.  “Albertson’s peaches are of higher quality than Shaw’s.”

If one wishes, one can use the Form as a measure of quality in an evaluation. But since quality cannot exist without human observation, algorithms seeking the quality of a thing can only at best approximate its ‘value.’  

One arrogantly unstated proposition of Technocracy is that quality is something that can be ranked and rated by use of an algorithm comprised of inarguably objective characteristics.  Phil has gotten higher-quality care in his hospitalization than Ken.  We accept this statement, and we accept the propositions behind it – that such a statement has a sort of meaning to it.  We use externally-defined metrics to compare them.  We assume there is an arbitrary standard of “Correct,” or “Best Practices” that comprises perfection, and that any variation from the standard is a blemish.

Many of these assertions are nonsense.

Pirsig’s Quality

Robert Pirsig confused me at a young age with Zen and the Art of MotorCycle Mechanics – not as regards motorcycles, but quality.

Pirsig’s static quality, which I will call “q-quality” and explain why later, involves the nominal association, or mapping, in the way incidentals can be graphed into commonly-named clusters. The name of the aggregate may have deeper meaning by result of the aggregation, or it may not.  Vonnegut’s “gonfalloon” is a ‘noise’ remaining from stochastic aggregation.

This “q-quality” is related to the names one can place on something to describe its incidental elements.

[To be continued]