Re: Aunger speaks, London 11th November

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Fri 08 Nov 2002 - 00:16:48 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: The religion meme"

    >Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2002 11:38:57 -0800
    > > 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
    > > 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
    > > the selfish gene. In fact that is how he came about the meme idea
    > > 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
    >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
    >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
    >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
    >as replicators results from the mechanism meme, which exploits our desire
    >understand life with the same exactitude with which we understand our own
    I think a meme lives in the same sense and the same environment that a mind lives. No one can prove the existence of a mind and I don't think anyone can prove the existence of a meme. The mind is a process of the brain but not every animal with a brain has a mind. It seems unique to human beings. Within that mind are ideas that propagate through their usefulness to the people who use them. When an idea ceases to be useful, it ceases to exist.

    New ideas replace old ideas. New tools replace old tools. I tried to buy a windowshade for my house the other day and it took me hours to find a store that sold one. What people use now are venetian blinds. That's all the big stores sell. The concept of a pull-down shade is fading from our society. Now we can argue over the use of words like idea and concept and meme and say one is not the other, but to me that's like arguing that similes don't describe the same thing.

    without a brain, there is no mind. Without a mind there are no concepts. Without concepts there are no memes to transfer. But where can you put your finger on any of these things outside of the brain to prove that they exist?
      It's like trying to prove the pattern on your computer screen exists inside the computer. We know that in one sense it does, but another sense it does not. I think the meme is a lot like the pattern on your screen. We know its there because we use it, but it's very hard to take it out of the computer and show it to anyone. All we can show people is the pattern on the screen that encodes it.


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