Re: transmission

Date: Wed 14 May 2003 - 19:26:53 GMT

  • Next message: Douglas Brooker: "Re: transmission"

    > On Wednesday, May 14, 2003, at 02:02 PM, Scott wrote:
    > > Fact of memes? A rather bold statement that is. I'd rather see it as
    > > "presupposition (or assumption) of memes".
    > >
    > > Is there sufficient reason to assume that ideas are isomorphic
    > > between individuals? If so, provide some here:
    > >
    > > I don't see Wade as raising a straw man, but raising healthy
    > > objection.
    > Well, firstly, thanks. I don't see it as a straw man either. I see
    > people who object to it as a straw man as deliberately avoiding the
    > issue, entirely, almost to ad hominem levels. There is no straw there
    > in this objection, as there is no straw there in your claiming memes
    > are assumptions.
    > But- in the case of the performance model, memes are not only
    > evidential and non-abstract, but absolute and defined with certain
    > rigidity. They are not assumptions about the way a mind, or minds,
    > work, but a working theory about the process of cultural evolution, at
    > the level of quantum units.
    > There is no reason to assume that ideas are isomorphic between
    > individuals. In fact, memetics would not be possible if this were the
    > case- the telepathy that is required to create this isomorphism (this
    > transmission from one mind to another) would also ensure that any and
    > all of the communicative steps now necessary for transmission- a body,
    > language, artistic expression, context, scenery, venues, etc.- would
    > be unneeded, in fact, extraneous.
    > Joe claims that, one day, fMRI and other technologies, will show us
    > such isomorphisms as a proof of memesinthemind, but, I also claim this
    > is impossible, just as impossible as telepathy, because no two minds
    > can be isomorphic to begin with. That a river is a river because it
    > has banks and moving water is a truism. That the Mississippi is the
    > Amazon is not.
    > That Richard, who has been raising his specious claim of
    > memesinthemind for, what, seven years or more now?, sees information
    > and transmission in some unexplained way, denying the modes of
    > communication, or, somehow, seeing them as agents of the progress of
    > some 'meme', which somehow, regardless, 'takes hold of' or 'controls'
    > someone's 'memespace', is most understandable, as he is the leader of
    > the mob carrying the banners that most amply reinforce my statement
    > that such is "a simplicity that dumbs down any further effort to
    > explore memetics, if not halt it altogether." It is certainly this
    > willingness to mysticize memetics or to multiply cognitive entities
    > that sociobiologists and cognitive scientists find most off-putting
    > about the general schema of memetics, if not urging them to reject it
    > out of hand.
    > On the other hand, since we're talking about hands, the performance
    > model rejects nothing from sociobiology or cognitive science (it
    > rather embraces any and all empirical and developmental work about the
    > brain and body and the mind), but manages, as the memesinthemind model
    > cannot, to place its agent, the meme, outside of _direct_ human
    > sociobiology, into the milieu of culture, that very non-imaginary
    > construction of mind and society and environment that biological
    > evolution has worked so hard to put the human animal into and without
    > which our species probably would not have formed and most certainly
    > could not continue.
    > And, if the study of memetics is indeed the study of cultural
    > evolution, then the performance model is the best and most viable
    > analytic tool, and the only one that does not introduce questionable
    > entities or suppositions as prefaces to the enterprise.
    > - Wade
    For quite some time now, Wade has been pushing his behaviorist performance, or memesinthemotion, model, and denigrating the cognitive, or memesinthemind, model, of memetics. Let's investigate his model with a few thought experiments (if Wade still thinks that thoughts exist). The verbal communication of the 'there's a bear in the berry patch' meme will indeed result in some meme-recipient people not visiting the berry patch. But so will the 'in the berry patch, there is a bear' meme, and for the same people. Performance-wise, these are very different; the speech-action is not even close. Yet, they result in the same avoidance. Clearly the meaning that is encoded in the speech act, that is, the semantics of the message, is the essential, and the particular structure of the message (a structure which mandates a particular speech-act performance) is variable. Now, suppose that one of our meme-recipients is a bear hunter. The sellfsame meme (in any particular construction) that caused others to avoid the berry patch will cause him to grab his gun and rush right over. But why? Quite simply, because the message interacts with already- present memesinthemind, and the hunter's cognitive gestalt is different from that of the treasurer of the local PETA chapter. Thus, we see that the same action can be caused by different constructions of a meme (or even by different memes; say, there's a mountain lion in the berry patch), while different people will perform differently when presented with the selfsame meme, depending upon their existent cognitive gestalt, or the memealreadyintheirminds. Our bear hunter might respond the same or differently, depending upon whether he is also a mountain lion hunter. Meaning, quite simply, cannot be swept under a performatory rug, and it is a fundamental confusion to mistake the encoding device (a pattern of perceptual changes, such as speech-originated sound waves encountering one's ears) for the cognitively authored significance encoded in specific sound patterns.
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