RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Sat Mar 02 2002 - 03:11:08 GMT

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    Subject: RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
    Date: Fri, 01 Mar 2002 19:11:08 -0800
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    >Subject: RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
    >Date: Sat, 02 Mar 2002 13:15:34 +1100
    >At 02:19 PM 1/03/02 -0500, you wrote:
    > >
    > >
    > >Using a family example I can remember all too well how quickly 'my'
    > >daughter learned the word 'mine'. When you think about it recognizing
    > >something as a possession is a rather sophisticated notion.
    > >Ray Recchia
    > >
    >Thanks Ray
    >This is my point exactly. Whilst Grant sees possessiveness as an
    >exclusively natural trait, I suspect, from my work on traditional cultural
    >narratives, that it is largely conditioning.
    >'My' children also learned the 'mine' concept early whereas the near tribal
    >children that they associated with did not develop it until much later. My
    >hypothesis here is that I taught the trait to my children at the
    >pre-linguistic stage by removing 'my' possessions from them. For example,
    >"Don't put Daddy's keys in your mouth", or "Careful with that honey it's
    >The people with whom we lived however did not a) have as many possessions
    >as we did and b) they did not value the possessions to the exclusion of the
    >child's enjoyment and freedom of action. That this caused cultural
    >difficulties between infants was disturbing and enlightening. As you can
    >imagine, when the children played together, the Aboriginal children wanted
    >to play with whatever toys that they saw and my kids wanted to protect
    >their 'possessions'.
    >One of the key indicators in my mapping of cultural cnemes (or menomes - I
    >haven't decided yet) is what happens to personal goods after death. It
    >turns out that in the so-called civilised (individuated) world we leave our
    >possessions to whoever we want to, whereas many tribal people either
    >distribute goods to the group or burry them with the body.
    >As you say Ray, recognising something as a possession is a rather
    >sophisticated notion. It is still 'my' position that notions (memes) are
    >more nurture than nature (genes).
    I never used the word or the idea "exclusively." But I do take the position
    that memes have to be used to overcome the genetic heritage. Children can
    be taught to share but I believe they develop the "mine" concept without
    being taught. At the same time, they develop the desire for what others
    have without being taught. Do you think jealousy is just a meme? My
    children were expressing the idea before they could talk. My son would just
    walk over and take his younger sister's toys and walk off with them while
    she sat and cried. I had to take them away from him and give them back to
    his sister. As a result, she smiled and he pouted. Later, when no one was
    looking, he would hit her. It took me years to teach him not to take his
    frustrations out on his sisters by hitting them.

    When I tried to teach his older sister that if she just let him play with
    something of hers he wanted for a while, he would grow bored with it and
    walk away. I didn't have to teach her that what was hers was hers. That
    was her position from the start and she still resents my trying to teach her
    otherwise. She only had one child, so the problem never arose in her

    My wife and I shared everything but our clothes, so I don't know where they
    learned the "mine" concept. They were barely able to walk at the time. All
    they had to do was see it in someone else's hands and they wanted it. The
    most common reaction was refusal expressed by holding the object away from
    grasping hands.

    But to state my position more clearly, the "mine" concept is an interaction
    between gene and meme with the gene providing recognition of things that are
    "mine" and the meme telling us what to do about it. In the end, I don't
    think the memes have a chance in hell of winning this tug-of-war. And I do
    think history is on my side.



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