Re: memes defined operationally (from article)

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Thu 16 Jan 2003 - 01:29:44 GMT

  • Next message: derek gatherer: "mabs 2003"

    At 09:47 PM 15/01/03 +0100, you wrote:

    >----- Original Message -----
    >From: "Richard Brodie" <>
    > > Keith wrote:
    > > <<While I certainly agree that our minds are shaped by ideas with both
    > > internal and external sources, I think calling ideas of a sort that are
    > > never passed on (entirely internal) does damaged to the very concept of
    > > memes.>>
    > > It makes about as much sense as not calling genes that are never passed on
    > > genes.
    >Richard, Keith,
    >In the sense, that ' fingers just arise if cells where with all those
    >fingers were
    >initial connected kill themselves ', how can it be that then ' death '
    >cells were
    >transmitted to the offspring !?

    It is not easy to parse what you are saying here, but I understand. Cells die (specifically they undergo apoptosis) in the flat sheet of tissue that will become a hand. But (short of cloning) *all* the cells in the hand will die when the individual does.

    >It would mean, in a sense, that the genes/ cells we end up with are not
    >but the ' dead neighbours ' of those genes/ cells are !
    >How would you call them !?

    You have to distinguish between germ line replicators, very few of which get into the next generation and somatic cells *none* of which make it.

    But it is not really important because the germ line (precursor) cells and body cells have the same genes. So the DNA in a body cell that takes good care of its germ line cells does well by proxie. Same as a worker in social insects.

    >If we take the same approach for memes, we can say that the meme/ memeplex
    >we end up with, what thus gets selected and is tranferred into a behavior, a
    >performance, is the result of a ' slice- and devide- process ', where all
    >kinds of
    >bits of perceived/ received info ( internal/ external) is cut up, all what
    >is left, is
    >what we need to survive ( 'we' here are our memes).
    >Thus the meme itself would not be important, but the non- content-
    >or what Grant describes as those info's we grab but never transmit, what in
    >a way,
    >" encircles " the thing we call meme.
    >What do you think !?

    As I point out in the article there are two levels, genes and memes involved. Both (plus non memetic experience) shape our minds. Memes can't get too far away from reality and have their carriers survive.

    I often think about memes stacking in a mind up like cannon balls. A layer of them provide niches for others to fit. Much of academic instruction is like that, you have to learn fundamentals (sets of memes) before more difficult memes can fit into the "mental spaces" made by foundation memes.

    Memes are also selected by meta memes, of which the scientific method is the best example.

    Keith Henson

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