Re: Different words for the same thing?

From: Gudmundur Ingi Markusson (
Date: Thu 20 Mar 2003 - 16:18:19 GMT

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    Dear Grant and William.


    >Except that Freeman would find nonsensical the notion that thoughts

    (that is "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 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

    likes my views on music -- I have explicitly argued that the memes of music

    are in the external world -- but I've never explicitly asked his opinions on

    my account of memes.

    Bill B



    When I read your correspondence, I immediately thought of Terrence Deacon’s short article in _Semiotic Review of Books_ (Vol. 10(3)) “The trouble with memes (and what to do about it)” where he suggests that a Peircian (C.S. Peirce) semiotic framework for memetics could be developed for the benefit of both memetics and semiotics. It is one of the most interesting things I have ever read on memes and can be accessed at:



    He suggests that memes should be defined as Peircian sign-vehicles (in C.S.P.’s terms, representamen), which can be any phenomenon or process in the world, which a cognizing subject interprets as referring to something else. Sign-vehicle-memes are replicated by way of the interpretative response of the cognizing subject. He separates the meme and the meaning (interpretation) arising in peoples brains. Also, he departs from the whole replicator conception, which he criticizes as one of the conceptual errors of “conventional” memetics. These are just some of the points I remember (I emphasize that I am jotting this down from memory). It is a highly recommended piece of writing.




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