Systematics and Memetics:Towards a Memetic Species

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Sun Feb 24 2002 - 22:40:55 GMT

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    Subject:  Systematics and Memetics:Towards a Memetic Species
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    > Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2002 12:57:23 -0500
    > From: rmey4892 <>
    > Subject: Systematics and Memetics:Towards a Memetic Species

    > Here I will now propose another such "subset" to the Evolutionary Species
    > Concept: The Memetic Species. Memetic information aggregates into distinct
    > "meme pools" and resides in individuals that share certain attributes and
    > modes of production and reproduction. From a Typological perspective an Inuit
    > and a Yanomamo are as different as a Littorina littorea and Littorina
    > saxitilis. As different as Asterias vulgaris and Asterias forbesii. From the
    > Genetic Species concept, mixture of genes is potential, and thus they are the
    > same species. But the fact the the two have separate and distinct evolutionary
    > and ecological roles is undeniable and the reason for these separate roles,
    > equally undeniable, admittedly still theoretical, is the meme.
    > So right about now you may be saying "What does this guy think he has
    > proved?What does he think a Memetic Species is?". That is a very good
    > question. Is a culture a memetic species? Is a race a memetic species? How
    > about modern nation states? Are political borders the boundaries of memetic
    > species? I don't think any of these is an accurate definition of memetic
    > species, especially since many are ill-defined or not universally recognized
    > by any one coherent definition.
    > So, as far as I can figure, a memetic species must be almost analogous to the
    > Biological Species Concept. The boundaries must be defined by language
    > barriers. They must have a "culture" which is distinct from other populations
    > by a significant "number" or different kinds of memes. I suppose those are the
    > only two requirements : 1)the population must be separate from other
    > populations 2)the population must be distinct in its informational content
    > Finally, I feel the need to point out one other point about memetic species.
    > It may soon loose its usefulness as a concept since technology in
    > communications, the increase travel that a global economy of capitalism
    > brings, and, hopefully, a feeling of peace will prevail in the world will
    > allow for significant cultural exchange and soon render the term useless. It
    > is upsetting that some things that are held dear, perhaps "memetic vestigial
    > appendages", will be lost as knowledge about the world and its other
    > inhabitants is gained, but perhaps it is that knowledge and freedom which will
    > finally lead to an understanding of the world and the position we hold in the
    > context of the universe. In this way I feel memetic species will be a term
    > that will rarely be applied except in theoretical circles and historical
    > accounts of species diversity.
    > Thanks for reading,
    > Randall Meyer
    > P.S. Anyone need a grad student next year? I am available and eager to learn
    > anything and everything I can (except Marine Biology).

    Hi Randall, and welcome.

    I presume that what you are trying to say is that we comprise many memetic
    species. Unfortunately the gene meme analogy has a few problems

    I don't think trying to define a Memetic Species by culture or race is
    particularly useful. To my way of thinking all humans carry the ability to
    more or less the same degree. fair enough, our cultures determine what the
    memes are that we carry, but this doesn't change the underlying similarity
    of us all. If we are all a memetic species, what would the subsets be termed
    for particular cultures in that case? Memeplex has been suggested for
    combinations of memes.

    Also unlike genes, memes can and do change people horizontally and
    vertically rather than the vertical transmission of genetic material through
    the generation, gene therapy excluded. (memes can change previous
    generation. Try that with genetics :-) )

    Finally, if we have any sense we will record all the different peoples
    behaviours and customs, if only for selfish reasons. Eradication of both the
    plants and the knowledge of how to use them is a serious loss to medicine
    and health. Who knows what else we could lose?




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