"minimum separabile" and the memetic code

From: Agocs Viorel (viorel_agocs@yahoo.com)
Date: Sat 01 Feb 2003 - 08:27:33 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: "minimum separabile" and the memetic code"

    "Minimum separabile" and the memetic code

    I have been following the memetic debate on Internet for more than a year now, when I realized that something is missing. I also think that the debate has been going on for too long at the abstract level and it is time to make the shift to the concrete. The reason there are so many unbelievers is that we do not have any reference to the MEMETIC CODE and a mechanistic model of the structure of the meme. We also do not have a proper definition regarding the ENCODING MEDIUM of the memetic code. But, in the process of correcting this, we forget that prior to the gene was the proteine and prior to the codon was the amino-acid. We already knew a lot about the amino-acids and the proteins long before we knew anything about the gene itself. We have been following the wrong path all along all along trying to find out the structure of the meme first. It is like trying to broke the nutshell from inside out. It is known that the gene is built up from sub-units we call codons and we define this in reference to the amino-acids. If the gene have such sub-units, I wonder why shouldn't the meme have too? In the following I hope to prove, indirectly, the existence of these memetic sub-units as real, physical entities by demonstrating the existence of an anatomical structure similar to the amino-acid, which functions as encoding medium for the memetic code. In the same way the codons code for amino-acids, the memetic sub-units also code for something I will temporarily call "minimum separabile". Hold that idea! The term "minimum separabile" belongs to Lorenz, who studied the phylogenetic development of voluntary movements through the animal kingdom (the term was originally used to explain the separation power of the retina).

    I've been reading these days this book on ethology, in Romanian, when I stumbled on this passage:
    "As I emphasized earlier, there is a basic physiological difference between two types of instinctive motion: one type which refuses to comply to the learning process, and another type which, on the contrary, possess a high tendency to associate with diverse conditioning stimuli during the learning process. This basic physiological difference between the behaviours unsuited for the learning process and those suited, relies on the fact that the former are activated by a single unitary and extremely specific motivation, while the later are not activated by such a single unitary motivation. The later can be incorporated in more than one behaviour, each with different motivations. For this reason they are called instrumental activities. When the environment and life conditions of a species demands a sudden and total adaptability of the motions of that species, which cannot be provided by the existing complexes of ereditary motions, than the phylogenetic adaptation is realized by fragmentation in many small elements (units), each of these remaining just as rigid as any centrally coordinated motion; each of these, because of their limited size and because of their permanent availability, are suitable to be used as separate pieces in the process of learning new motions, with practically infinite complexity. Metaphoricaly speaking, the ereditary coordinated motions does not alter like an elastic ribbon, moulding itself on the demands of the environment, but rather like A CHAIN CONSISTING OF MANY SMALL RINGS WHICH CAN INTERCHANGE. This becomes very obvious if we compare the locomotion of a few related species, but species living in different environments. The more homogenous the environment is, the narrower the adaptability it demands. In the case of Ungulates the locomotion
    (walk, trot, gallop) is globally coordinated. In this case the soil, being relatively homogeneous, provides each step with the same support. But, being confronted suddenly with obstacles unforeseen, these Ungulates, which live on open steppe, stumble almost allways, because they lack the proper coordination. A more precise coordination of motion is possible only when the smallest autonomous unit of motion - "minimum separabile" or voluntary motion, as Lorenz calls it - is as limited as possible. Indeed, for the animal to be able to target a particular point, like the surface of a small stone on a mountain side, and successfully pass through it, he must coordinate its each step as precisely as possible. So, in order to coordinate its motions, it is vital that this smallest unit to be available independently from other similar units. This capacity to fragment the global ereditary coordination in small, isolated units, which makes them available to be organized, through learning, in a succession of voluntary motions, is a phylogenetic adaptation more obvious in the case of mamals which lives at high altitudes, with rough terrain, like Capra ibex, Capra pyrenaica etc. The environment which demands the largest flexibility of the coordination of locomotion, and the greatest possibility to combine these isolated units in complex, learned motions is the tree canopy. The fragmentation is more obvious in Primates because they can use their prehensile hands, legs and tail to grasp deliberatelly a certain branch. K. Lorenz concludes that the process by means of which small elements of motion are extracted from the whole, in order to gain a relative autonomy - which allows them to be used to the construction of new, learned behaviours - leads to the apparition of the so called voluntary motions."

    So, I conclude that these "minimum separabile" are in fact the _encoding medium_ for the memetic code. They are anatomical structures used to create a variety of complex motions, in the same way the amino-acids are uses to create a large variety of complex proteins. Each amino-acid in the protein has its coresponding codon within the structure of the gene, and each
    "minimum separabile" has its corresponding sub-unit within the structure of the meme. One involves the other. In fact, all that a learning system needs is a code (genetic or memetic) and an encoding medium, a set of recombinable elements that we call amino-acids or, in the case of memetic code, these "minimum separabile". All we have to do now is to delimit anatomically these "minimum separabile".

    P. Weiss postulated 6 levels of inclusiveness for motion:
            Level 1. Basic unit of contraction (muscle fiber)
            Level 2. All the muscle fibers which belong to the same muscle
            Level 3. The synergistic activity of all the muscles which move the same joint
            Level 4. The co-ordinated motion of one leg, hand etc
            Level 5. The co-ordinated motion of more organs
            Level 6. The motion of the whole body Considering that we cannot voluntarily move a single muscle fiber (Level 1) or even a single muscle (Level 2), the best match for our above description of
    "minimum separabile" seems to be Level 3. It is the smallest irreducible voluntary motion. I will remind you that most animal joints have one, two, or three degrees of freedom. Most joints have _at least_ two muscles for each degree of freedom (two "minimum separabile"), because each muscle is paired with a muscle of the opposite effect. If we take the human ankle, for instance, we can see that it has two degrees of freedom, because it can exhibit flexion and extension, as well as inversion and eversion. We can conclude that, in the case of the human ankle, there are at least four "minimum separabile" (four "amino-acids") which forms the basic elements to a large variety of motions that the human ankle can perform through learning. Just think at the amazing performance of a ballet dancer. If we consider the human jaw, we can see that it has three degrees of freedom: it can move right and left, up and down, back and forth. Of course, through the combination of these six (six "minimum separabile"), the jaw can perform a large variety of other, more complex, motions (many of them involved in speach). In this case there are not one, but two joints involved
    (but this is not relevant). Another example is the human eyelid. It can perform only two basic motions: up and down. But through the combination of these two, it may result very complex and subtle motions (just remember the way your girl-friend looks at you sometimes). All this is true for the vocal apparatus, too: the tongue and the larynx. One might object that the tongue makes an exception because it doesn't have a bony skeleton, so it doesn't have joints. But this is not true because the tongue's body does have a fibrous skeleton which serves as insertion points for the tongue's muscles.

    Everybody knows that each amino-acid has its corresponding codon within the genetic code. If we accept all that I said above, we must also accept that each "synergistic activity of all the muscles which move the same joint", each "minimum separabile", has its corresponding "codon" within the MEMETIC CODE. In respect with the term "codon", I will name it "MEMON".

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