Re: Words and Memes

From: Dace (
Date: Sun Feb 17 2002 - 21:13:25 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Words and Memes
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    > > Ideas become memetic only when they self-replicate. When they
    > > replicate through human intention, they're just ideas. Yes, memes
    > > can involve behavior as well as ideas. But if we equate memes with
    > > behavior and ideas, then we might as well just refer to behavior and
    > > ideas and forget about "memes." There has to be something that
    > > distinguishes some behaviors and ideas from others. When they're
    > > not only habitual but *culturally* habitual, then they constitute memes.
    > Yes, well said. This is how we view memes. Memes are ideas or beliefs
    > that specifically have structures and elements (primarily linguistic or
    > symbolic) that will enable to self-disseminate and self-defend. If an
    > does not have these structures it is not a meme.
    > Memes are not behaviors because behaviors _can_ have no idea
    > behind them, nor need have self-replicating structures.

    What about a language? Isn't our speech a self-perpetuating behavior? It
    begins as a product of human creativity but gradually becomes ingrained.
    You can learn a language intentionally, but that's not how children do it.
    Our native language incorporates us into itself, not the other way around.

    > A behavior, if it given these structures
    > and an idea or belief embedded within it, can then but only then serve
    > as a medium for a meme.

    Why can't a behavior be both the meme and its mode of propagation?

    > i would add, for this same reason other instances
    > of the human experience are not memes either, e.g. emotions, or the
    > expression of emotions....unless they are embedded in the memetic
    > structures.

    The way we express emotions is culturally defined and therefore memetic.

    > To take this a little further: It is the structure that allows
    > and self-defense that makes a thing a meme, not the thing itself.

    Well put.


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