From: Wade T. Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue 20 May 2003 - 00:15:43 GMT
On Monday, May 19, 2003, at 07:45 AM, Richard wrote:
> I don't understand why anyone would say memories can't be memes.
Firstly, thanks, Richard, for at least thinking performance might be in
the running. Your wondering in an objecting way about the persistence
of performance is, well, perhaps more intuitive than reasoned, however.
Culture has a long established pattern of maintaining its venues for
the single purpose of ensuring the similarity of performances within
them. So, it isn't the persistence of the individual performance that
is important for cultural evolution, but the persistence of the
recognizability of performances- their relational connections with
previous performances. The fact that the individual performance might
be only moments, or nanoseconds, long, is not a relevant portion of the
evolutionary effect, and, even calling the performance a 'replicator'
is incorrect, as the performance is the result of a venue and a
participant and an observer, the three necessary and sufficient
conditions for cultural transmission.
Memory is a function of the brain, and, as such, is a functional
portion of two of the necessary elements of cultural evolution, the
performer and the observer, but not of the cultural venue itself, which
is also a player in the venue. What serves as 'memory' in the cultural
venue is the whole mise-en-scene- the artifacts and presentations of
culture, which are commanding aspects of the venue at all times
performances are issues.
(In the cultural venue of the baseball game, the very fact that there
is still a diamond base path and four bases, and a pitcher's mound, and
an outfield, and two dugouts, and foul lines, and bullpens, and
spectator seats- all these things are the cultural memory of the game
in concrete form, in the venue of performance, and, as such, this venue
commands the performance of a baseball game. Such is the information
supplied by the venue, and it is this sort of information that the
memeinthemind model ignores.)
Therefore, a meme is not a memory, as memory is only one of the factors
in each player, and a maintenance pattern in the venue, not the whole
Saying that the unit of cultural replication needs to reside in the
mind negates every and all influences from the venue itself, and, while
I'm sure no-one thinks a billboard is actually performing, as far as
the venue is concerned, it is nonetheless playing.
The idea of the cultural venue is perhaps even more important than the
idea of the performance as the meme, because we are all, by nature,
players on a prepared stage. Analyzing that prepared stage is just as
important as analyzing how the minds of the observers and the
The main claim of the memeinthemind adherents is that human cultural
cognition requires the agency of the meme, as an agent of cognition.
IMHO, there is enough known about the workings and cognitions of the
mind to not need the addition of a memetic mechanism in it, either for
creation, or perception, of the cultural venue and the performances
happening within it.
But, as Joe and others have stated, there may well be a need for a
memetic agency in the brain- perhaps as cultural animals we have need
of other mechanisms than just language and society and memory and
ideation- and perhaps fMRI or other modalities will find them- but for
me, what we know and can understand about the brain is sufficient to
explain the development of culture, and the performance model takes
what is mind at face value, so to speak, with no added necessities,
especially imaginary ones with no certain mechanism.
Why isn't memory and language and socialization and ideation enough for
the memeintheminders? Why do they need to introduce yet another agent
to the list of suspected cognitive processes?
Truly, I don't know. This is what mystifies me.
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