Some authors in memetics have suggested (explicitly or implicitly) that `consciousness' or a `Self' beyond the constructs of memes and genes can choose or design memes (most famously Dawkins' (1976) call to "overthrow the tyranny" of the replicators).
In his paper, Nick Rose says that attributing variation and selection of memes to conscious foresight not only undermines the value of meme theory as an evolutionary process, but is also a kind of giving up. He suggests the claim that we intentionally design and choose memes begs the question; `why do we need an evolutionary theory of culture at all?'.
"If one believes God meddles in biology, one need not posit evolution to explain the forms we find in biology. Likewise, if one believes that `consciousness' has the foresight and independence to select and direct behaviours towards some goal, one need not posit evolution to explain the forms we find in culture."
Is this 'overly reductionist', or unfairly dismissing `free will'? Or is this, as Nick Rose claims, the only way forward for an evolutionary theory of culture?
Dawkins, R. (1976). The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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