Re: Different words for the same thing?

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Wed 19 Mar 2003 - 03:33:54 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: Different words for the same thing?"

    >From: William Benzon <>
    >To: <>
    >Subject: Re: Different words for the same thing?
    >Date: Tue, 18 Mar 2003 20:04:41 -0500
    >on 3/18/03 6:07 PM, Grant Callaghan at wrote:
    > > And each and every performance is just the same- a unique solution to
    > > problem of what step to take, or word to use, or turn to take, or smile,
    > > frown, or dance, or....
    > >
    > > Wade
    > >
    > > The following from:
    > >
    > > An Exploration In
    > > Mesoscopic Brain Dynamics
    > > Professor Walter J Freeman
    > > University of California, Berkeley, USA
    > >
    > > representations - intentional gestures, words, numbers, and constructed
    > > objects that elicit meaning in the process of communication, but which
    > > themselves have no meaning
    > >
    > > thought - a process by which Neuroactivity constructs meaning, modifies
    > > intentional structure, and makes representations for purposes of
    > > communication among humans and animals
    > >
    > > -----------------
    > >
    > > It would seem that what Wade calls memes Freeman calls
    > > What I call memes are what Freeman calls thought. I would suspect that
    > > Freeman has little or nothing to say on the subject of memes. But at
    > > what we are giving names to is common to the lexicons of all of us.
    > >
    > > Grant
    >Except that Freeman would find nonsensical the notion that thoughts (that
    >"memes" in your terms) can somehow propagate from one person to another.
    >Freeman is quite clear in asserting that meaning is constructed in brains
    >and that each brain does so in a way that is unique to it. For each brain
    >has a unique history and its meanings reflect the whole of that history.
    >Meanings do not propagate from one brain to another in the way you want
    >memes to.
    I could agree that meaning is contingent upon personal history and that one would need to take account this contextual background when figuring out how meaning emerges for one person versus another. Yet, if two people converge quite a bit on relevant points of personal history, couldn't what something means to them have a degree of convergence (or overlap) also? People who share some points of personal history in common are apt to "get" inside jokes which would go "over the head" of those who do not share the relevant background. I think the warped scifi spoof Mystery Science Theatre 3K might be a great example. If a group of people watches this show togther, where the onscreen robots and person (Mike or Joel) make fun of bad scifi movies, some might be more apt to laugh at certain arcane references versus other, based perhaps on similarity of experience. By the same token, only those subscribed to this list who have seen MST3K probably know what the heck I'm even talking about right now. We MST3K'ers share some personal history in common (we've watched a varying number of episodes of the same show).

    Yet, I guess even something shared like watching this show would weave differently into the personal fabric or life quilt each of us carries around, so meanings might not converge exactly.
    >I don't know what Freeman things about memes. I've corresponded with him
    >quite a bit on his theories about brain activity and music. I know he
    >my views on music -- I have explicitly argued that the memes of music are
    >the external world -- but I've never explicitly asked his opinions on my
    >account of memes.

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