Re: Words and Memes

From: Joe Dees (
Date: Mon Feb 18 2002 - 00:18:10 GMT

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    > "Dace" <> <> Re: Words and MemesDate: Sun, 17 Feb 2002 13:13:25 -0800
    >> > 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.
    If this were true, all speakers of a given language would possess identical vocabularies, which is clearly not the case. Children learn, by means of their exposure to language-speaking others, the syntactical structure of a given language or languages during a critical period, but people may learn new words throughout their lives, and different people possess different vocabularies. Competence (what people can understand of a language) and performance (what people use of a language) vary between individuals. We are not a part of language; language is a part of us by virtue of the fact that we have learned (cortically encoded and retained)it. There is much more to us than linguistic capacity.
    >> 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.
    >This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    >Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    >For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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