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I just picked up Chomsky's syntactic structures at the library, and I have
come to think that his view is not all that dissimilar from my view in
memetics? I suppose I have some silly hope that memetics lies half way between
Chomsky and Darwin, providing a bridge that brings quantitativeness into the
social sciences. Perhaps this is naive, but I have begun to form some
opinions, entirlely unfounded of course, on the subject.
I have begun to wonder if grammar developed because there is simply no other
way to convey meaningful information. Think of the most simple sentence you
can. It might be "the dog ate the cat" and throw away the articles since they
are mere convention. you are left with "dog eat cat"...Subject, verb, Direct
object. Now, you have two nouns, both observable using sensory apparatus which
can, obviously and intuitively, store images in the brain. This is a fact
simply because I can recall an image of a cat or dog just by simply wishing
that it were so (right now I am thinking of a big steak sandwich.....soooo
hungry.... but this is besides the point). So nouns, or objects perceived in
the real world with a given genetic basis in the organs that have been derived
through neo-darwinian processes, can thus be recognized and stored and
categorized into what arises as the label "dog" or "cat". I can think of
several dog's or cats, all dissimilar from one another but recognizably the
same concept (a concept agreed upon by any astute observer that is aquainted
with biological diversity, or exposed to the meme by others who know about
you see, the dog or cat cannot be "understood" without an innate concept, that
what we see is a real item in nature. Then there is an innate concept of
"real", an "existence meme" as I prefer to call it. Language, utilizes such
innate concepts to make a sentence in its simplest form S.---V.---D.O. So what
about the verb. Here I will argue that that too is an innate concept since it
arises from short term memory and pattern recognition. A pattern is perceived,
stored and labelled. We can see that most animals can perceive of actions such
as "eat", though some animals with shorter memories cannot place the pattern
as a universal one that has been encountered in the past and is deserving of a
label.this labelled stored memory of an action pattern, I would all a
So in fact the simplest sentence could be "EAT!" as a command with "you"
understood and "the food" as the understood D.O. Sentences would not have
arisen in the first place if they did not serve a function. This function is
to take information from perceptive apparatus, store it, label it, and convey
it to others who are capable of conceiving of pattern and existence.
My dog sees me put my shoes on and he goes and sits at the door. He is no
doubt anticipating sticking his head out my window going 30 mph down the mall
strip to the pet store (well maybe not the pet store, but he knows he wants to
go and its not a simple good-bad response, since that same car can take him to
the vet). another thing that brings him running from the other room is the
jingle of my car keys. When I tell him to "Sit", he understands the sentence
"I desire that you should sit, and perhaps you'll get a cookie", or some close
approximation (At the very least "I want you to sit").
This all, perhaps, smacks of skinner's behaviorism, but since I am unfamiliar
with the intricacies of that school of thought i cannot be sure it is the same
thing. It just appeared a way to get to memes, half-way between language and
just a thought to chew on, guys. your criticism is welcome.
Date: Tue, 02 Apr 2002 07:29:53 -0800
From: "Grant Callaghan" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: To be or not to be: memetics a science?
>Boy are we quiet out there or what? Here's an issue for you guys to ponder
>and hopefully to revive the list a little.
>Is memetics a science? That is: a systematic study about the structure and
>behavior of the physical
>world consisting of theory as well as experiment. If not (yet), does it has
>what it takes to
>ever become one? Or are the variables involved too complex to be isolated
>study and will it thus remain a theory without the possibility of testing
>the things it predicts and implies?
>Your opinions of whatever kind are gladly appreciated. So: What Say You?
I don't think anyone has yet figured out what the memetic point of view has to
offer that the other social sciences do not. Does it really change our view of
history or sociology or anthropology? Does it help us predict human behavior
any better than psychology or neurology? What does it give us that promises to
make it more useful?
So far, I just find it an interesting viewpoint. I think it gives me a
non-Chomskian way of looking at language, for example. But I don't think what
it gives me is any more important or even as important as what Chomsky's view
has contributed to the study of language. It helps me look at language
complexity rather than being limited to Chomsky's reductionist view. But
Chomsky's work is making it possible for computers to understand and process
written and spoken language. So far, my view just makes me feel better.
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