Re: Standard definition

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Wed 30 Oct 2002 - 16:36:46 GMT

  • Next message: Bill Spight: "Re: Standard definition"

    >On Monday, October 28, 2002, at 05:53 , wrote:
    >>People can easily regard use of the word "meme" as an attempt to grab some
    >>of that aura [of achievement] without first having
    >>established a highly advanced and useful science. This is a problem that
    >>did not exist for the word "gene" when it was introduced.
    >Aaron provides the nutshell of the problem of definitional posturing
    >regarding the meme, as the very mechanism or result of the mechanism are
    >both still conjectures. We just don't have evidence of cultural evolution,
    >in the way Mendel did, or Crick and Watson. We have patterns of change
    >which may or may not have an evolutionary mechanism, but could just as well
    >be emergent artifacts of human social existence.
    >The evolution of culture is a pink unicorn, too.
    >To a life without memes!
    >After all- if birds got 'em, I don't want 'em!
    >(The fact more is- I don't _need_ 'em- I'm more than happy to feel related
    >to birds, or spiders, or anything else that crawls, slithers, flies....)
    >However, memetic theory, and the hypothesis of mechanisms of cultural
    >evolution (or at least the analyzing of what has changed and how in
    >cultures over the years, putting aside the question of whether it's
    >actually evolutionary, or just ancillary to social behaviors), does seem to
    >have some meat to it, perhaps tasting like chicken, or crow.
    >But really, in all my trips to museums, I always come away feeling that
    >nothing has changed except the things we work with and the places we work.
    >The processes are all the same and remain.
    >- Wade

    When I use the word "evolution" to talk about memes I'm using it as a metaphor rather than as an exact equivalent to the way a biologist uses it to talk about genes. There are many similarities between evolution and memetic change and also many differences. The primary reason for using
    "evolution" in conversation is because it gets tiresome to say "change" over and over. In fact, it gets tiresome to say ANY word over and over. But that's a linguistic problem rather than a scientific one.



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