Re: Standard definition

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Sun 03 Nov 2002 - 20:50:05 GMT

  • Next message: Wade T.Smith: "Re: I know one when I see one"

    >Dear Wade,
    > > Is there any possible experiment to show Joe's meme-ory, or to prove the
    > > presence of a meme in the mind? What conditions would be needed to
    > > gather data about behavioral change due to a single, controlled, memetic
    > > stimulus? Is there an experiment even possible? Internalist emes have
    > > been used, as you say, mostly as post-hoc explanations of cause without
    > > any empirical mechanism demonstrated.
    > >
    > > It's time to show some protocols, I think.
    > >
    > > Unfortunately, the only experimental conditions I can imagine to set up
    > > would be hideously unethical, if not downright cruel.
    > >
    >I suspect that you mean something different from "meme in the mind" than
    >its proponents do. Would you outline such an experiment? That would help
    >highlight any differences between your and their understandings.
    I suspect you are asking for the impossible. Has anyone yet proven there is such a thing as the mind? There is, however, something going on that we use to think with and to create with. We refer to whatever that is as our mind.
      While we may not be able to find physical evidence for its existence as a separate entity within the brain, we do have our own experience to go on and we do manage to learn thousands of words and pass them around from person to person. Whatever it is we use to do that and wherever it is located, in the brain, in the body as a whole, or if it is a process with no specific location, we call it our mind and it is doing what we say we are doing when we think -- which is a behavior and which guides the body when it performs. Take it away, and performance is no longer possible.

    Since we can perform the same behavior over and over and we can call up these thousands of words, which are an activity we refer to as memetic, what further proof do you need? Are you trying to prove that the meme is a physical presence rather than a process we use? I don't think you can do it anymore than you can prove that a program is what is making the computer do what it is doing.

    If we came upon a computer and couldn't access its insides without destroying it, could you prove that a program was running it? And where in the computer is this program located? Is it in the CPU? In the hard drive? You know the answers to these questions because you are familiar with the process of building one. But if you knew no more about it than you know about the human body and how it is constructed, would you be able to find the ghost in that machine? I don't think so.


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