Re: memetics-digest V1 #1014

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Thu Apr 11 2002 - 21:43:41 BST

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    Subject: Re: memetics-digest V1 #1014
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    Hi Randy.

    > Date: Tue, 9 Apr 2002 17:26:30 -0400
    > From: rmey4892 <>
    > Subject: simple and transient-state memes
    > Hi Steve,
    >> 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.
    > It may well have been. It is important to remember the other aspects of
    > language. I.e. The non vocal which expands even EAT into many forms, such as
    > EAT? (an invite possibly) EAT? (an enquiry) EAT? (an expression of concern
    > when someone is ill and not eating). Each expression of EAT? Would be
    > accompanied by the appropriate kinesthetic, facial expression and proxemics
    > appropriate to the situation and are just as important as the vocalisations.
    > In some respects, the non-vocalisations are part of the grammar. After all
    > we may have spent much of our evolutionary history as a non vocal species.
    > <<<<<<<<<<(is this not semantics???? I am new to linguistics???)

    Not sure. I'm coming at this more from a social psychology angle.

    >The many uses
    > of the sentence "Eat" are here conceded to you,since a robust science of
    > memetics would require complex memes, but it must be remembered that you are
    > referring to usage of language, while I was referring to innate concepts
    > required to use language, namely simple memes. If I want to make an
    > observation about something I have to perceive it in simple terms. I can
    > perceive "you eat food!" the command, "you want to eat food? the invite, a bit
    > more complex than my simple example, "you eat food as opposed to something
    > else?" also more complex, and "you eat please for you have taken ill and I
    > worry about you?", which is decidedly complex (I deliberately made them look
    > more complex, but you get the point....the examples you referred to are about
    > how we use language, not any universal theme of how we understand the world
    > around us.this is what we mean when we say semantics right?) (syntax are the
    > rules of grammar are they not? you can correct me there if you like)(so
    > memetics then should be rules of perception and memory storage, all other
    > complexity of semantics and syntax can thus be derived from memetics)>>>>>>>>>

    Yes I suppose there is a degree of complexity. My point was that Eat! is not
    that simple itself and that language is not restricted to vocalisation's
    which too often seems to be assumed on this list. IMHO, the simplest memes
    are likely to be those of a gesture which invite the observer to copy.
    Eg. One person picks food up, pops in mouth. Points to second observer and
    makes the motion without eating, and repeats the sequence till the other
    gets the idea that this unfamiliar thing (say) is edible. The innate concept
    in this is 'food' and the need to eat. The meme(s) are what is food.
    >> 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").
    > <<<<<sorry,I was vague here, the simplest thought here is "master commands
    > you" plus another simple meme "you sit there" or maybe "you sit now".>>>>>

    I think there is some differences on the list over which animals can 'do'
    memes. :-)
    >> 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.
    > Pavlov to my mind. Also, it may be that your dog understand the context not
    > the command. If you know Pavlov, my apologies for the next bit, but Pavlov
    > showed that by using a reward withold sytem he could control the responses
    > of dogs. Every time they were about to be fed a bell rang and then they were
    > fed. Eventually, the dogs would salivate even though they got no food
    > afterwards.
    > <<<<<Pavlov missed the boat (I'll bet you 5$ that if you continued for two
    > years to ring the bell and give no food, the dogs would stop salivating)

    Nooo! not taking that bet ! Anyway it would still prove Pavlov. The
    conditioning only last so long. Without reinforcement they would revert

    >, I
    > think, and if Skinner is an extension of that then I don't like him too much
    > either. There is no way for thought to proceed without a conception of
    > existence(nouns) and transient states (verbs if you prefer that term).
    > without it there are only genetic robots and I highly doubt that any such
    > creatures exist that can have a complex social structure that is entirely
    > mediated by genetic expression (except, perhaps, ants via E.O.Wilsons
    > Sociobiology, but there are no sentences here only chemical signals and
    > hormonal responses). So the place for sociobiology in humans is here stated:
    > Humans have the capacity to perceive the existence of an object and its
    > transient states, and IMHO, there should be a remarkable gradation of thought
    > throughout vertebrate forms that allows for such incredible complexity. the
    > rest is memetics: simple memes (existence and transient-state), simple meme
    > sentences, and complex meme sentences.>>>>>>

    Sounds to me like a memetic robot? Or do I misunderstand?
    > IIRC, Skinner took this further and thought that all creatures, us included
    > are just a set of conditioned responses to the enviroment we find ourselves
    > in. Apparently many of the reductionist soicobiologists still find his views
    > attractive.
    >> It just appeared a way to get to memes, half-way between language and
    >> Genes.
    >> just a thought to chew on, guys. your criticism is welcome.
    >> Randy
    > Regards,
    > Steve
    > <<<<<<<<<P.S. the simple meme sentence "Randy is Randy, or "I am me" might
    > seem circular reasoning to some of you, but you must take it as given that the
    > concept of existence must be used by the memetic actor to say anything, even
    > sentences that are affirmation of that existence.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>



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