Re: Words and Memes

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sat Feb 16 2002 - 03:39:16 GMT

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    Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 22:39:16 -0500
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    Subject: Re: Words and Memes
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    At 10:32 AM 15/02/02 -0800, Dace wrote:


    > > You would be much like a computer with the rudiments of an
    > > operating system but nothing more. I don't think it would be much of an
    > > existence.
    >Computers aren't subjects of awareness.

    Mine is. My computer is intently aware in a way that human, or even cat
    watching a mouse hole could not do. I it is aware of every key stroke,
    every mouse movement and every mouse click. Besides that, it is watching
    for communication from the cable modem.


    > > I don't understand this conflict business.
    >The conflict arises because, inevitably, some of our memified notions will
    >be pathological. Ideas can't distinguish between right and wrong. Any
    >idea, no matter how ridiculous, can become self-replicating. Though quite
    >powerful, "L. Ron is God" doesn't contribute to the good of the social body.
    >It's a freelance meme, much like a carcinogenic cell. When an alternative
    >social body begins to form around a carcinogenic meme, the result is cult,
    >not culture.

    I think you could state this in terms more adapted to discussion of
    evolution. Genes and memes construct and program human minds. Most of the
    time genes and memes are not at cross purposes, but sometimes (as the
    Shaker meme I have mentioned) they are. Besides the "viewpoints" of genes
    and memes, genes and memes construct individuals who have their own
    viewpoint no matter how much that viewpoint may be biased by genes or
    memes. Sometimes the effects of memes is strong enough to override genes
    and you get cults like the Shakers or Scientology.

    > > Humans are as adapted to load and run memes as
    > > computers are to load and run software. Software is useless without
    > > without hardware and vice versa. In our mental lives we are self booting,
    > > self programming, start from a single cell organisms. And what we can
    > > load depends to high extent on what we have loaded earlier. As an
    > > example, you won't get anywhere with higher mathematics without a
    > > foundation clear down to arithmetic, and you need a foundation of
    > > physical concepts you learn as a small child such as counting and
    > > quantity even before you get to arithmetic.
    >We need memes in order to progress beyond the simplest level of culture.
    >But they'll turn around and bite us if we're not careful.

    They have all to many times in the past.


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