Re: Sue Blackmore lecture Wednesday 5.15pm London

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Sat 15 Feb 2003 - 16:37:50 GMT

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    >The axe ' created ' itself, presented itself along the ways from
    >our first desire to bring those trees down to the specific tools
    >that are around today.
    >You seem to indicate that humans created the axe first and than
    >searched an use for it !? The enginuity you talk about have to
    >have a decent bias. People has to be faced with problems ever
    >before their minds starts making memes.
    >To get people to imitate, thus to learn from eachother you have
    >to have the ability to do so, where in the first place those
    >ability, evolutionary speaking, comes from if you exclude ' for-
    >sight ', and for what reason would it emerge otherwise !?

    >IMO, than memes, or what we call memes, would be around
    ever before humans were aware they existed, ever before we were conscient of ourselves and ever before we had perspective of things.
    ?In a sense it was the meme of ' cutting down trees with axes' that
    >provided the environment for it to exist in, humans spread it_
    >as they were as vehicles to get the meme propagated.

    You are reading things into my post that aren't there. I have no doubt that the ax was the result of a long line of evolutionary discoveries that began with the use of a stick to make holes in the ground, holes in people, and to do such things as grind grain, etc. I suspect the ax was a tool for cutting down men and animals before it was a tool for cutting down trees.

    At the same time, sharp stones were used to cut meat and cut people and to do myriad other things, invented by people one usage at a time. At some point, someone realized that cutting trees down with a sharp stone attached to a stick was an easier way of doing it than trying to run a sharp stone against the tree or bending it over to make it break. But before that, I suspect that the ax was being used to cut down people in battle because hitting your enemies with a sharp stone leveraged with the length of a stick was more effective than just hitting them with a plain stick.

    These uses, too, changed the environment of both man and meme. But what created the meme was a man with a problem and the search for a way to solve it. It was not a meme in search of a man to use it.

    When a man approaches a problem, he usually has all of the previous memes in his culture from which to choose a more effective way to get a job done. If you look at the cognitive concept of blends, you can see that the way the brain operates is to take two existing ideas or memes and put them together to creat a new combination. This new combination creates a new idea, or frame, which can then be further modified in the process of being used. Almost all creative thinking is a process of blending old concepts to create solutions for new problems. These blends have been observed with extensive testing in labs around the world using MRI technology. THE WAY WE THINK by Mark Turner and Gillies Faukenier (spelling?) describes the process in agonizing detail and provides a bibliography of sources to back up their claims.

    What determines our ability to create new memes for the meme pool is the frames that already exist in our minds and our ability to blend them together to create new ones. The new ones we create change our intellectual environment and the associative environment of the meme by the way we combine and use them. As that environment changes, so does man and meme as man uses existing memes to solve new problems. The more memes we have available to us, the more options we have for the process of adapting to our internal and external environments. The meme doesn't do anything other than exist in the minds of men. Men borrow from each other to better their existence and this is what creates and perpetuates the meme pool.

    That, at least, is the way I see the process. New information, of course, could change that viewpoint tomorrow. Right now I'm working on a concept I call "cognitive memetics" which combines the work of cognitive scientists with what I've picked up so far about how memes come into existence and are spread through society to take a new look at memetics and its foundations.


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