RE: definition of meme

From: Richard Brodie (
Date: Tue 20 May 2003 - 16:29:48 GMT

  • Next message: "Re: Definition of meme"

    Wade wrote:

    <<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.>>

    I thought you claimed performances were memes. Memes are replicators. If performances aren't replicators, they aren't memes.

    I'm not sure how you can ever not have a venue, so I don't know what you mean when you claim it's one of three necessary and sufficient conditions for cultural transmission. And of course, culture can be transmitted to an observer sitting home alone watching a videotape or reading a book with no participant in the venue.

    "Persistence of recognizability of performances" sure sounds like mental state to me.

    <<(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.)>>

    How do you think ballparks get built without memes in the mind?

    <<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.>>

    A meme is not "the" unit of cultural replication. It is one element in cultural evolution.

    Now it appears you are expanding the definition of "performance" to include the mere existence of artifacts. If that's so, you'll get much more agreement because artifacts can be replicators.

    <<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 performers operate.>>

    So now you're saying "cultural venues" are memes, not performances. Defined appropriately, I think "cultural venues" could be looked upon as replicators, although I and others reserve the word "meme" for simpler mental replicators.

    <<The main claim of the memeinthemind adherents is that human cultural cognition requires the agency of the meme, as an agent of cognition.>>

    I never heard anyone claim that, and don't even really understand your point. I'm guessing you are confusing Dennett's "intentional stance" with volition. Mental replicators are pieces of information in a mind which, when they're there, increase the probability of behavior that tends to spread that same piece of information to other minds. I don't know what you mean by 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.>>

    There is no addition of anything, simply the labeling of a process that is already going on. Memes are not new entities, they are simply certain learnings.

    <<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.>>

    I have never heard a coherent explanation of how the performance model can explain or predict anything.

    <<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.>>

    In another post you said you understand the mental-replicator model completely and that's why you discard it. Yet you produce voluminous long posts that misstate, confuse, and ridicule that model. After the almost ten years we've both been on this list, I find it difficult to believe you really want to understand.

    Richard Brodie

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Tue 20 May 2003 - 16:35:32 GMT