What Is Pirsig’s Philosophy on Life How Does He Teach Chris About It?


Diego Sanchez

Robert Pirsig’s philosophy on life, as depicted in his novel “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” is a complex and thought-provoking concept that challenges traditional notions of quality, value, and self-discovery. In the book, Pirsig uses the character of Chris to teach his philosophy through a series of conversations and experiences. Let’s explore this philosophy and how Pirsig teaches it through Chris.

What is Pirsig’s philosophy on life?

Pirsig’s philosophy centers around the idea of “quality.” He argues that quality is not just an objective measure of excellence but also a subjective experience that can be deeply personal. According to Pirsig, people can experience quality when they are fully engaged in an activity or when they create something with care and attention to detail.

Pirsig also emphasizes the importance of “being in the moment.” He believes that people often get caught up in their thoughts about the past or future and miss out on what is happening right in front of them. By being present and engaged in the present moment, people can experience more richness and depth in their lives.

How does Pirsig teach Chris about his philosophy?

Pirsig teaches Chris about his philosophy through a series of conversations and experiences during their motorcycle trip across America. One key moment occurs when they are fixing their motorcycles together. Pirsig emphasizes the importance of paying attention to every detail when working on something – even seemingly insignificant parts – because each piece contributes to the whole.

Another important lesson occurs when they visit a motorcycle shop that only sells cheap, low-quality parts. Pirsig argues that these parts may be affordable, but they do not last long or provide any sense of satisfaction or pride in ownership. Instead, he encourages Chris to invest in quality parts that will last longer and provide a better overall experience.

Throughout their journey, Chris begins to understand Pirsig’s philosophy and applies it to his own life. He learns to appreciate the beauty of the scenery around him, even when it is not conventionally “pretty.” He also learns to take pride in his work and pay attention to small details that make a big difference.


Pirsig’s philosophy on life is a complex but powerful concept that challenges traditional ideas about quality, value, and self-discovery. Through his conversations with Chris during their motorcycle journey, Pirsig teaches the importance of being present and engaged in the moment, paying attention to every detail, and investing in quality experiences. By understanding and applying these ideas, people can lead more fulfilling and meaningful lives.