Re: electric meme bombs

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Wed 23 Oct 2002 - 06:36:35 GMT

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    Yes well, getting right down to it I did use "object" in the dictionary definition sort of way - but - I don't think you can have it both ways. I hate choice dichotomies but I think this one is valid. If you are going say The Meme is only the finite "data", you ignore the "elements" of the transfer process and what effect they might have, not only in terms of the possible mutation or evolutionary effects that the transfer process might generate, but also in terms of discriminating between memes and other (non-memes) thoughts. I say this emphatically because no one can demonstrate by any scientific process (that I am aware of) of how a meme "looks" when inside a brain. My own short-hand version is that a meme in the brain is a belief. It does not become a meme again until a replication event occurs. A simple way to demonstrate this is the use of different communication media: a potential meme might be coded in a written format. Someone reading the text may be infected by a meme, but pass it on verbally but with variations to the original. Hence my preference for a definition that includes the replication process when defining a meme.

    Phil: The replication process is a potential source of mutation that is independent of the cultural element that is being replicated. That is, the replication process at hand is likely to induce similar mutations in subsequent cultural elements that are aimed to be be replicated. Hence the actual process of replication is not a unique property belonging to some particular meme. Therefore I advocate separation of the cultural element on the one hand and transfer process of memes on the other. OTOH if the transfer process itself can be replicated (for instance by imitation) I have no problem in calling it a meme, in fact my integrity would demand it. But I would prefer to call it a meme in its own right.

    However, you got me thinking about the subject. Could you please strenghten your case by giving explicit examples of your viewpoint?


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