Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Phaedrus, named after an Ancient Greek Sophist who appears in Plato’s Socratic dialogue Phaedrus, is the name by which the narrator refers to the consciousness that once occupied his body. Phaedrus was a highly analytical academic prodigy who grew disenchanted with the western intellectual tradition’s limited notion of reason. While teaching English at Montana State University in Bozeman, he begins to develop a philosophy that revolves around a concept he calls Quality. Quality is a single concept that encapsulates the subject/object duality that dominates western thought. Phaedrus pursues further study at the University of Chicago, where he reads the Ancient Greek philosophers that engendered the problematic subject/object distinction in contemporary academia. During his time in Chicago, Phaedrus suffers a mental breakdown, and he is hospitalized and subjected to electroshock therapy. Following this therapy, Phaedrus’s consciousness changes to that of the narrator.

Phaedrus Quotes in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

The Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance quotes below are all either spoken by Phaedrus or refer to Phaedrus. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Quality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperTorch edition of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance published in 1974.
Chapter 3 Quotes

A second flash...WHAM and everything brilliant—and then in the brilliance of the next flash that farmhouse—that windmill—oh, my God, he’s been here! -- throttle off—this is his road—a fence and trees—and the speed drops to seventy, then sixty, then fifty-five and I hold it there.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Phaedrus
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 6 Quotes

But he saw a sick and ailing thing happening and he started cutting deep, deeper and deeper to get at the root of it. He was after something. That is important. He was after something and he used the knife because that was the only tool he had. But he took on so much and went so far in the end his real victim was himself.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Phaedrus
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 7 Quotes

What has become an urgent necessity is a way of looking at the world that does violence to neither of these two kinds of understanding and unites them into one. Such an understanding will not reject sand-sorting or contemplation of unsorted sand for its own sake. Such an understanding will instead seek to direct attention to the endless landscape from which the sand is taken. That is what Phædrus, the poor surgeon, was trying to do.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Phaedrus
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis au

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 10 Quotes

The number of rational hypotheses that can explain any given phenomenon is infinite.

Related Characters: Phaedrus (speaker)
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia de

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 18 Quotes

Phaedrus’ refusal to define Quality, in terms of this analogy, was an attempt to break the grip of the classical sandsifting mode of understanding and find a point of common understanding between the classic and romantic worlds. Quality, the cleavage term between hip and square, seemed to be it. Both worlds used the term. Both knew what it was. It was just that the romantic left it alone and appreciated it for what it was and the classic tried to turn it into a set of intellectual building blocks for other purposes. Now, with the definition blocked, the classic mind was forced to view Quality as the romantic did, undistorted by thought structures.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Phaedrus
Page Number: 282
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 20 Quotes

Any philosophic explanation of Quality is going to be both false and true precisely because it is a philosophic explanation. The process of philosophic explanation is an analytic process, a process of breaking something down into subjects and predicates. What I mean (and everybody else means) by the word quality cannot be broken down into subjects and predicates. This is not because Quality is so mysterious but because Quality is so simple, immediate and direct.

Related Characters: Phaedrus (speaker)
Page Number: 319
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 21 Quotes

No, he did nothing for Quality or the Tao. What benefited was reason. He showed a way by which reason may be expanded to include elements that have previously been unassimilable and thus have been considered irrational. I think it’s the overwhelming presence of these irrational elements crying for assimilation that creates the present bad quality, the chaotic, disconnected spirit of the twentieth century.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Phaedrus
Page Number: 327-328
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 31 Quotes

I can imitate the father he’s supposed to have, but subconsciously, at the Quality level, he sees through it and knows his real father isn’t here. In all this Chautauqua talk there’s been more than a touch of hypocrisy. Advice is given again and again to eliminate subject-object duality, when the biggest duality of all, the duality between me and him, remains unfaced. A mind divided against itself.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Phaedrus, Chris Pirsig
Page Number: 517
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris niLorem Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Get the entire Zen and the Art of... LitChart as a printable PDF.
Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance.pdf.medium

Phaedrus Character Timeline in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

The timeline below shows where the character Phaedrus appears in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
...Chris asks to hear another ghost story. The narrator tells him about a man named Phaedrus, who spent his life hunting for a ghost, only to become a ghost himself. Chris... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Lying awake, the narrator confesses to the reader that Phaedrus has seen the land the group now travels through, and has led them to this... (full context)
Chapter 5
Identity Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
...in his sleeping bag, exhausted but unable to sleep. He has a haunting vision of Phaedrus, whom he describes as an “Evil spirit. Insane. From a world without life or death.”... (full context)
Chapter 6
Identity Theme Icon
...at breakfast of another stomachache. The narrator decides to devote that day’s Chautauqua to describing Phaedrus’s world, because he doesn’t think it’s appropriate to omit Phaedrus from the story at this... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Phaedrus, the narrator explains, divided human understanding into two approaches, “classic” and “romantic.” Phaedrus’s approach was... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Phaedrus, the narrator says, operated within this alienating context of opposing ideologies. His ideas made others... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
...group or not at all. Back on the road, the narrator continues to think of Phaedrus’s “rational, analytical, classical” brand of thought. The narrator demonstrates this sort of thought by dividing... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
According to the narrator, Phaedrus used this knife of logic to cut the world into very fine parts that he... (full context)
Chapter 7
Identity Theme Icon
...travel and the narrator recognizes that he should not mentally fight against his discussion of Phaedrus. (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Phaedrus’s “knife,” the narrator explains, is the tool that every human uses to discern his or... (full context)
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
The discussion of classic and romantic understanding is necessary to introduce Phaedrus, because the man must be described obliquely. Phaedrus was in pursuit of the “ghost” of... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
The narrator describes some of Phaedrus’s biographical background. He was an expert at manipulating the world analytically and logically, so much... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Phaedrus studied the ghost of reason because he saw it as a way to study his... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
The narrator says that the time has come to explain his own relation to Phaedrus. At a party several years ago, the narrator felt overwhelmed by carousing and went to... (full context)
Chapter 8
Identity Theme Icon
...much of a radical to speak there. Leaving town, the narrator recognizes a bench that Phaedrus has slept on as he made his way to that college in Bozeman. (full context)
Chapter 10
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
The narrator begins to elaborate on Phaedrus’s quest for the “ghost of rationality.” He reproduces a quote from Albert Einstein that details... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
By age 15, Phaedrus had already completed a year of university biochemistry. He becomes fascinated by the formation of... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Phaedrus reasons that this use of the scientific method showcases a harmful deficiency in the state... (full context)
Chapter 11
Identity Theme Icon
...feel very familiar to him. The group decides to reach Bozeman by a road that Phaedrus traveled often. Phaedrus would traverse the area during his frequent multi-day excursions into the wilderness.... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
After dropping out of college, Phaedrus’s “lateral drift” led him to enlist in the military. He is sent to Korea. His... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Once Phaedrus returns from Korea, he spends two weeks in deep thought. After this time, his lateral... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
...country” of Montana parallels another sort of “high country”—one that exists solely in the mind. Phaedrus traverses this mental terrain, and he reads many philosophical texts for guidance. However, he reads... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
By reading the texts of David Hume and Immanuel Kant, Phaedrus begins to better understand the predicament of classicism versus romanticism. Hume is an empiricist: he... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
...reason, reminiscent of Nicholas Copernicus’s theory of a heliocentric solar system. According to the narrator, Phaedrus performs a similar shift in reason in order to reconcile romantic and classic viewpoints. (full context)
Chapter 12
Identity Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
...painter named Robert DeWeese who teaches at the college. He is an old friend of Phaedrus’s, and the narrator worries that DeWeese will expect him to be the same person as... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Zen Theme Icon
Though the narrator’s account obscured this chronology, Phaedrus did not move to Bozeman immediately after his epiphany about Kant’s philosophy. Before Montana, he... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Zen Theme Icon
One day at the Indian university, Phaedrus’s teacher explains that the world is illusory, and Phaedrus asks whether the atomic bombing of... (full context)
Chapter 13
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
...return to the college in Bozeman, because it holds a great deal of significance in Phaedrus’s personal development. Teaching there made Phaedrus very anxious, because of his solitary nature. Right-wing state... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Phaedrus’s efforts against accreditation scandalized some students, and during one of his classes, he delivered a... (full context)
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
The narrator praises the logical prowess of Phaedrus’s Church of Reason speech. He goes on to explain that true adherents of the Church... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
The narrator also observes that Phaedrus’s devotion to the Church of Reason likely came as a result of his understanding of... (full context)
Chapter 14
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
The narrator continues, telling the story of the Ancient Greek figure named Phaedrus. The Phaedrus of ancient times was a rhetorician who is immortalized as an interlocutor in... (full context)
Chapter 15
Identity Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
...and Sylvia head home. The next day, the narrator and Chris revisit the college where Phaedrus taught. When the father and son enter the building, Chris gets deeply uncomfortable and runs... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
A woman comes upon the narrator in the classroom, and recognizes him as Phaedrus. She may have been one of his students. She treats the narrator extremely reverently and... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
On his way out of the classroom, the narrator comes across Phaedrus’s old office, and is overcome with memories of his philosophical breakthroughs. He also recalls a... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
The essay assignment vexes the students, and Phaedrus believes they must be having the same definitional troubles as he. He wonders how people... (full context)
Chapter 16
Quality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
...Chris begin their hike into the mountains. He compares their trek through the mountains to Phaedrus’s mental odyssey towards discovering Quality. The narrator divides Phaedrus’s thought on Quality into two phases:... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Phaedrus’s nonmetaphysical explanation of Quality hinges on his teaching of rhetoric. He gives students assignments aimed... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
...refuses to do a task he’s asked to do. The narrator continues to muse about Phaedrus’s new grade-less teaching scheme. The goal is to discourage students who aren’t interested in education... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
At the end of the term, Phaedrus surveyed his students to see how they liked the grade-less system. An overall majority preferred... (full context)
Chapter 17
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
The narrator recalls the aftermath of Phaedrus’s assignment that asked his class to define Quality. The students are baffled and indignant when... (full context)
Duality Theme Icon
Zen Theme Icon
...an approach that leads only to failure or unsatisfying success. He recalls a failed attempt Phaedrus made to climb Mount Kailas as part of a pilgrimage in India, and concludes that... (full context)
Chapter 18
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Phaedrus begins to examine “esthetics,” the formalized study of Quality, but is repulsed by the intellectualism... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
...not condemn his son’s bratty behavior, and the pair resumes hiking. Meanwhile, the narrator recreates Phaedrus’s image of a world without quality, and concludes that a world without quality is a... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
The narrator emphasizes that Quality bridges the gap between romantic and classic modes of thought. Phaedrus’s refusal to define Quality means that the concept cannot be viewed from an analytical, classic... (full context)
Chapter 19
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Phaedrus is asked by the Bozeman English faculty whether Quality is a subjective or objective phenomenon.... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Phaedrus is very excited by his tripartite model of reality, but he decides to revise it.... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Zen Theme Icon
Just as Phaedrus’s breakthrough is recounted by the narrator, he and Chris break out of the tree line.... (full context)
Chapter 20
Quality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Phaedrus conceptualizes Quality as a “preintellectual reality.” He explains that some people view it differently because... (full context)
Chapter 21
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
...the narrator muses that he cannot evaluate how truthful it is that the Tao and Phaedrus’s Quality are one and the same. What Phaedrus’s philosophizing really accomplished, however, is an expansion... (full context)
Chapter 22
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
...new Chautauqua about the thought of the French polymath Jules Henri Poincaré. Poincaré was, like Phaedrus, very interested in testing the limits of scientific reasoning. During Poincaré’s lifetime, different mathematical systems... (full context)
Chapter 27
Identity Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
...explains to his son that his threats weren’t aimed at Chris. The narrator realizes that Phaedrus is actually the one dreaming, and that this signifies Phaedrus’s reawakening. The narrator himself is... (full context)
Chapter 28
Identity Theme Icon
The chapter opens with a flashback: Phaedrus and a six-year-old Chris drive in a car through a desolate cityscape. Neither of them... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
The narrator decides to recount the conclusion of Phaedrus’s story. Phaedrus asks his colleague Sarah where he could find more lessons on the nature... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Phaedrus is admitted to the program by its interim acting chairman based on his résumé. When... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
The narrator recollects a fragmented memory of Phaedrus commenting to the Assistant Chairman that he hadn’t noticed Aristotle in the committee’s curriculum. The... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Zen Theme Icon
Phaedrus’s letter to the Chairman comes across as deluded and megalomaniacal. The interdisciplinary committee suggests that... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Phaedrus’s family relocates to Chicago, and since Phaedrus has no scholarship to study at the program,... (full context)
Chapter 29
Quality Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Zen Theme Icon
Phaedrus reads Aristotle fastidiously, so that his truculent Professor of Philosophy cannot dismiss him as a... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Zen Theme Icon
Plato is the next thinker to be studied in Phaedrus’s class, and Phaedrus disagrees with the philosopher’s equation of rhetoric with “the Bad.” Phaedrus has... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Zen Theme Icon
...the Sophists, the narrator says, because they posed a threat to his idea of Truth. Phaedrus also remembers that the Sophists were teachers of virtue and excellence, and to clarify these... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Phaedrus then realizes that Plato has simply made arête into a fixed concept: the Good. This... (full context)
Chapter 30
Quality Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
At the University of Chicago, Phaedrus’s Professor of Philosophy is out sick for many consecutive weeks. In the interim, Phaedrus studies... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
After several weeks, Phaedrus’s class meets again, this time taught by the Chairman of the Committee. Phaedrus understands that... (full context)
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
In the next class, Phaedrus tries to defer to the Chairman, but the Chairman snaps at him nastily. After this... (full context)
Chapter 31
Identity Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
...to complain, and the narrator realizes that Chris wants to hate him because he isn’t Phaedrus anymore. The narrator realizes that his inability to reconcile his own identity with Phaedrus leaves... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
The narrator observes that Chris’s inquisitive, combative nature reminds him of Phaedrus. The two stop at a diner, and Chris says he has no appetite because of... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
...see him. The narrator begins to recall more of his time in the hospital as Phaedrus. Chris then asks whether the narrator was actually insane, to which the narrator responds no.... (full context)