From: Richard Brodie (email@example.com)
Date: Tue 20 May 2003 - 16:29:48 GMT
<<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
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
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
<<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
<<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.
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