In context:

Where is the simple fact? Scientists have been seeking it in the two extremes, in the infinitely great and in the infinitely small. Biologists, for example, have been instinctively led to regard the cell as more interesting than the whole animal; and, since Poincaré's time, the protein molecule as more interesting than the cell. The outcome has shown the wisdom of this, since cells and molecules belonging to different organisms have been found to be more alike than the organisms themselves.

How then choose the interesting fact, the one that begins again and again? Method is precisely this choice of facts; it is needful then to be occupied first with creating a method; and many have been imagined, since none imposes itself. It's proper to begin with the regular facts, but after a rule is established beyond all doubt, the facts in conformity with it become dull because they no longer teach us anything new. Then it's the exception that becomes important. We seek not resemblances but differences, choose the most accentuated differences because they're the most striking and also the most instructive.

  1. What does the sentence in bold means?

And now that I had a vague idea what the sentence mean, what about the references:

  1. What is needful then to be occupied first with creating a method?
  2. What have been imagined?
  3. And none of what imposes itself?

Edit: Add a previous paragraph into the context, add 3 questions to elaborate more about the question.

Edit2: I had ponder on for several hours, and it occur to me that I might have misused 'reference'. I don't mean the reference of books, the 'reference' I am talking about here comes from Cohesion in English written by Halliday. And I had translate into three questions above. The second and the third may be ellipse, but for convenience I just call it reference because they all point to something in the text or in the register. I don't read the book thoroughly, and there may be error that I do not detect, but that's main idea of my question. Apology for my mistake.

Edit3: Well, what I am trying to said is I am new, and am trying my best as I can to ask a good question.

Please leave a comment before you downvote me, so I can understand where the problem is, and I will try my best to improve the question.

I don't know whether this question is a good question in your definition. But the question, especially the last three which underlie the first one, is important and valuable to me, and I'll try my best to get an answer. Thank you.

  • What is the work you are quoting from? – Erik Kowal May 26 '14 at 2:42
  • @ErikKowal Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Gary's Student May 26 '14 at 3:07
  • I see no context in the question. Asker is assuming everyone knows where he is quoting from! – Zoe May 26 '14 at 3:08
  • Sorry I didn't make it clear. The I set the sentence in bold to emphasize where it is coming from. Is it one paragraph is not enough to understand the sentence or is it my bad description of the question that you mean I am assuming everyone knows where I am quoting from? – Rui May 27 '14 at 2:46

it is needful then to be occupied first with creating a method; and many have been imagined, since none imposes itself.

What does the sentence in bold means?

To rephrase it:

"What one needs to do first is to create a method; many methods have been created, since no method stands out as being the obvious method."

  • And the method is to be occupied? – Rui May 28 '14 at 14:54
  • No, one is to be occupied with creating the method. To be occupied with here means to spend one's time on or be kept busy with. – Neil W May 28 '14 at 14:59

I believe that Pirsig is saying that we need to develop a method to analyze our observations. The method put forth is a two stage approach:

  1. Look for consistent patterns in the observations and develop hypothesis based on the observations.
  2. Next focus on apparent inconsistencies. Examine observations that are not consistent with the hypothesis. Carefully capture and understand any outliers in the observed data.

This is the basis of the scientific method and six sigma control methodology.

  • Thanks man, I had elaborate more about the reference part of my question. Hoped to be answered. Really appreciate your help. – Rui May 27 '14 at 2:55

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