Re: Aunger speaks, London 11th November

From: Dace (
Date: Thu 07 Nov 2002 - 19:38:57 GMT

  • Next message: Dace: "The religion meme"

    > From: "Othman Mohamed/CUSM/Reg06/SSSS" <>
    > I also find it bizar that he was
    > not sure whetehr Dawkins consider memes as replicators. If I remember his
    > words correctly, he said" Does Dawkins himself consider memes as
    > replicator? Although it is not clear from his writing, it seems that he
    > C'mon, Dawkins was very cleare in difining memes as replicators from
    > the very first time he mentioned the idea of memes in the 1967 edition of
    > the selfish gene. In fact that is how he came about the meme idea because
    > he was looking for other replicators apart from genes.
    > Othman

    The question is whether memes actively replicate or are passively replicated. Clearly Dawkins intended the former, and this is what defines memetics against standard theories of transmission of cultural patterns over time. How did we get to the point where so many memetics enthusiasts deny the defining feature of memes? To frame the question in terms of memetics, what is the basis of the meme responsible for the belief that memes don't propagate themselves?

    The answer can be found in our obsession with mechanistic metaphors of life. We like to think of the brain as a kind of organic computer. But the information in a computer doesn't self-replicate. Even if it does get copied, the information remains entirely passive during the process. In the mechanistic view, nothing is really "alive" or self-propelling, just passively reacting to physical and chemical forces. Given the hold that mechanism has over our thinking, we just don't feel comfortable with the idea of something that lives and promotes itself. The drift away from memes as replicators results from the mechanism meme, which exploits our desire to understand life with the same exactitude with which we understand our own technology.


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