My notes on Phadreus's metaphysical inquiry into Quality, as written by Robert M. Pirsig in the fictional Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I stripped away the fictional elements of the story and only focussed on the actual inquiry here. I only retained the name of the protagonist (the inquiring character) as a reference. (In the story, Phadreus is a lecturer who taught rhetoric at a university.)

The aim here is to help the reader understand Phadreus's lines of thought and attempted answers to the question: What is Quality?

<aside> ❗ This is not an all-encompassing note. The book is jam-packed with crazy insights and I highly recommend picking up the book and giving it a read, even if you've read through my notes here.


Before reading through, I recommend having a think on what you think quality means. What are the characteristics of good quality? Of bad quality? What do you experience when you perceive something that has quality? When you do that, Phadreus' thoughts on Quality summarised below can be read through much more clearly (and quickly).

So what is Quality? ...

Can 'Quality' be defined?

First thoughts

“Quality is a characteristic of thought and statement that is recognised by a nonthinking process. Because definitions are a product of rigid, formal thinking, quality cannot be defined.”

Can something that's not defined exist?

“But even though Quality cannot be defined, you know what Quality is!”