From: Bill Spight (email@example.com)
Date: Fri 18 Oct 2002 - 01:25:28 GMT
Again we are discussing what kind of thing a meme is or might be. As
Aungere points out, the lack of consensus on this point fuels criticism.
If nobody knows what a meme is, is there such a thing, anyway?
Despite this lack of consensus, I think that many memes pass the Stewart
test. U. S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said, "I shall not
today attempt further to define [pornographic] material … but I know it
when I see it." (http://www.bartleby.com/63/93/1793.html).
One example, I think, is the phrase, "Beam me up, Scotty!" Is there
anyone who thinks that memes exist that does not think that that is a
meme? OC, people differ about what exactly that meme is. Some think it
is the utterance, the act of saying or writing the phrase, some would
include a bumper sticker with that phrase written on it as a meme, some
think it is a neural structure or a set of neural structures, some that
it is an idea, some that it is all of the above, and so on. But does any
one of them doubt that it is a meme?
Another example, I think, is the TIT-FOR-TAT strategy of playing the
Prisoner's Dilemma game. (Axelrod: "The Evolution of Cooperation")
Again, exactly what that means differs among memeticists, but is there
not general agreement that such strategies are memes? (In fact, in a
recent web search of "replicator" I found that economists are
researching such strategies extensively. They call them replicators,
rather than memes, it seems, but let's call a spade a spade. ;-))
These are examples of two major classes of memes, I think: lexemes,
which include words, phrases, etc., and situation-response pairs, which
include game strategies, normative rules, techniques, etc. In fact, it
seems to me that these encompass most memes in any culture.
Am I wrong about whether such things are memes, regardless of how you
define a meme? What do you say?
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