Re: mind

From: Wade T.Smith (
Date: Sun Feb 24 2002 - 15:50:30 GMT

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    Subject: Re: mind
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    On Sunday, February 24, 2002, at 04:37 , Steve Drew wrote:

    > But you would not term eating or sleeping as
    > memetic behaviours. Hence not all habitual bahaviours are not
    > necessarily
    > memetic

    No, eating and sleeping are necessary autonomic behaviors, like sneezing
    and defecating. I doubt anyone attributes memetic qualities to them. But
    they are not _habitual_ behaviors, (indeed, if they appear to become
    habitual, as in sleep disorders, they are symptoms of an underlying
    physical problem), as, definitionally, habitual behaviors are not
    necessary and autonomic behaviors. A habitual behavior is one learned
    through repetition and unperceived during performance, personal quirks.
    But, affectations? They may have had intentional beginnings, as things
    turn to habit through mere repetition- do you really _remember_ making
    the coffee this morning?, but they become a conditioned activity or

    The argument, memetically, as far as I can tell, is whether or not, once
    become habitual, these behaviors can be said to be memes, or memetic,
    depending upon your stance. My stance unfortunately is without an answer
    to this question- as _habits_ they are not memetic, but they are
    artifactual behaviors which can be perceived and interpreted
    memetically, and that fits within the behavior-only model. And, 'maybe'
    don't count.... But perhaps it's a conditional definition we need.

    When I first saw 'Divorce, Italian Style', I became fixated upon a mouth
    and lip mannerism that Marcello embellished the character of Guido with,
    and, I remember affecting it personally. (Years later, I was watching it
    with a lover, and she instantly reacted to the same affectation with an
    'oh, what a disgusting habit....' Time and place are, uh, important. I
    said nothing....) After a while, I was doing it without knowing it, and
    I don't recall when I stopped, but, this is an example of a behavior
    intentionally copied that became habitual. Did _my_ memetic process stop
    once the behavior became automatic? I think yes. Did the memetic process
    of the behavior itself stop? I think no. But this is not clearcut, at
    all. Because my intent was to adopt a behavior that had certain
    intentional connotations, once it became automatic within me, it still
    had the opportunity to be perceived and understood _with the same
    intentional connotation_, and thus, was a meme being performed

    So, intentionally adopted behaviors with memetic content can be memes,
    even after the performance is automatic. This fits with calling all the
    cultural facades of rituals and manners memes as well.

    But, the whole range of autonomic behaviors, such as ingesting food and
    defecating, can only be surrounded and contained by cultural mannerisms
    and codes. One has to eat, and culture lets us eat alone, or with a
    group, or at a table, or on a cushion, or with salad first or salad
    between.... But nothing memetic or cultural can affect the need to eat
    or the fact we have to eat.

    But, eating disorders, like false memories, are rich fields for
    investigations as well. I'm not sure memetics has the drive-train to get
    into that territory.

    - Wade

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