Re: To be or not to be: memetics a science?

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Wed Apr 03 2002 - 07:52:35 BST

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: To be or not to be: memetics a science?"

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    Subject: Re: To be or not to be: memetics a science?
    Date: Tue, 2 Apr 2002 21:52:35 -0900
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    > >Hello, Grant, to be specific, what social sciences cover the areas
    > >addressed
    > >by memetics?
    > >
    > >Lawrence
    > >
    > To tell the truth, I still haven't been able to pin down exactly what
    > memtics addresses. This list, for example, seems to address everything
    > science to newspaper stories but none of them in a way that seems any way
    > different from the general discussion of these subjects. What areas are
    > addressing as suitable to the study of memetics? What do we say about
    > that is not taken from some other science, such as genetics or philosophy?
    > We cam't even agree on a definition of the subject and what it
    > as near as I can see.
    > If we're just going to back our arguements with the words of philosophers,
    > biologists, cosmologists and neurologists, why not cut out the middle man?
    > The arguements are stimulating, but neither Dawkins nor Darwin would refer
    > to themselves as memeticists, I don't believe. Who are the memeticists
    > define the interests of memetics? Susan Blackmore leaps to mind, but her
    > book seems to be more of a general survey of the literature than a
    > treatise on the subject.
    > Maybe I just don't get it, but so far all I've seen on the subject of
    > memetics is tons of speculation and very little of the kind of rigor that
    > categorizes and defines what is and is not memetic.'
    > Grant

    To the best of my knowledge, memetics is founded on the recognition of a
    second replicator, the meme. Similar to replicators of the first kind:
    memes are also necessarily subject to evolution. Memetics tries to describe
    this process of evolution in which this replicator thrives, which currently
    human culture and may very well turn into an AI-kind of turf one day.

    Another perspective which may be considered typical for memetics
    is to take on the viewpoint from the meme itself: the meme's eyeview
    (possibly inspired after Dawkins' gene's eyeview expounded in The Selfish
    In this rather controversial interpretation of culture the focus is laid on
    the meme which exploits its habitat of rendered robotic and slavelike hosts
    in a
    metaphorically and perceived selfish way to achieve domination over `rival'
    A disadvantage of this approach however is that it understates or even
    the coercive force memes need to have in order to successfully persuade
    potential hosts to adopt and propagate them.

    But that's a different story altogether. My point is that genetics has
    opportunities to
    test their theories regarding gene-dynamics. By symmetry, one might expect
    to be able to do the same thing regarding meme-dynamics. And that's
    precisely the
    question I'm trying to address here.


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