Date: Sat 26 Oct 2002 - 21:09:45 GMT
> > From: Bill Spight <email@example.com>
> > Dear Grant,
> > > Would you say the term "couch potato" is an example of a meme that
> > > propagated itself?
> > It is a meme, but it does not propagate itself.
> Then it's not a meme.
> > Dawkins begins his definition of "meme" in "The Extended Phenotype"
> > with, "A unit of cultural inheritance". In recent discussions I have
> > assumed that that was a necessary part of any definition of "meme".
> > (That seems not to be the case for everyone, however. ;-))
> > I propose that "A unit of cultural inheritance" is also sufficient
> > to define a meme, and thus, is an acceptable standard definition.
> > We may argue about exactly what and what kind of thing such a unit
> > is, but I think that it is a good idea to separate the ontology
> > debate from the question of definition. We may agree upon a
> > definition of "unicorn" without agreeing about the ontology of
> > unicorns.
> > BTW, Dawkins defines "gene" simply as "a unit of heredity". Short,
> > sweet, and sufficient. :-) No need to go into DNA, information,
> > mutation rate, or anything else. KISS (Keep it simple, sister).
> Dawkins is a reductionist. He regards the gene as the central actor
> of evolution, while the body is merely its mechanism of
> self-replication. In the case of memes, our minds provide the
> mechanism of self-replication. Memetics is a hypothesis that culture
> can be reduced to its "atomic" structure, that the indivisible unit of
> culture, and not human consciousness, is what provides its guiding
> principle. This unavoidably endows memes with self-nature, as they
> use us for their own propagation. To deny the "selfish" nature of
> memes is to abandon memetics. "Meme" would cease to have a unique
> meaning and could just as easily be replaced with "word, habit, tune,"
> etc. The question of memetics is the question of whether these
> elements of culture carry their own momentum, their own drive to
> reproduce. If not, memetics is finished.
> The alternative to standard memetics is to accept the "selfish" nature
> of memes without necessarily reducing culture to it. We can regard
> culture as a two-track process, involving human consciousness and its
> choices as well as the memes that seek to influence those choices.
> This treats memes in regard to culture exactly the way Walter Elsasser
> treats genes in regard to species. (See *Reflections on a Theory of
> Organisms*). Genes provide information required for cellular
> functions but can't account for the general morphology of the species,
> which is propagated holistically. Same for memes and the general
> characteristics of culture. While we can accept this as a variant
> hypothesis, the theory that does away with "selfishness" altogether
> ceases to be memetics.
> > 3) "Unit" means a single thing. It also suggests indivisibility. To
> > say that a meme is a unit can be faulted on both counts.
> It's the self-nature of the meme that makes it singular, i.e.
> > Definition is not the end of discussion, it is the beginning. :-)
Prions are alternatively folded proteins (kinda like Vonnegut's ice-9) that cause proteins like them to fold in the same manner when they come into physical contact. This is a completely molecular/chemical reaction that does not involve or entail volition or purpose on the part of the prion. Also, viruses cause a cell to reproduce them rather than itself when they hijack its replicative processes, but no one could reasonably accuse viruses of possessing either awareness or selfishness (which requires self-awareness). The same goes for the cybermechanical replication of computer viruses; no one could reasonably claim that they are consciously self-aware. Likewise, memetic structures that, when they come into communicate contact with an embodied human consciousness, could result in that embodied human consciousness to engage in a behavior that would replicate them in the consciousnesses of other embodied humans could have itself blindly evolved and not required volition or 'selfishness' on the part of the memetic structure.
> This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
> Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
> For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
> see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
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