Re: transmission

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Wed 21 May 2003 - 14:17:05 GMT

  • Next message: Richard Brodie: "RE: transmission"

    On Wednesday, May 21, 2003, at 09:12 AM, Scott wrote:

    > Memory, rule, idea and performance OTOH are words referring to somewhat
    > different things. The usage of these terms convey something in each
    > case
    > that doesn't seem to me to be captured well under the umbrella of the
    > "meme". The "meme" is a term coined by Dawkins that IMO doesn't have
    > the
    > same status as the term "dog".

    It don't much matter, if all you're looking for is some ghost in the machine, to enslave semantic labeling and call a memory a 'subclass' and a rule a 'meme' and an idea a 'potential meme' and a performance an
    'active meme', and that is, really, all the memeinthemind model does by way of explaining itself, throwing these words around.

    If I may, when Dawkins slipped 'meme' into the discussion of cultural evolution, he did so with an offhand intent to analogize genetics and that certain evidence of cultural patterning that seemed to follow darwinian processes, and even in his first musings about this, he externalized them almost exclusively, finding them in artifacts and performances, and wondered what was happening in the mind to keep such things going.

    Well, the performance model doesn't claim anything special is happening in the mind, at all, but thinks something special is happening in the sort of performances that get selected in culture.

    And Dennett, looking at all of this, almost cuts loose from the mind-based meme, but, because humans are, after all, actors in the venue required, and humans have minds, he keeps a piece of the cultural action in the mind, although, IMHO, his algorithm approach to cognition is all that is needed, not a special class of algorithm anyone needs to call a meme.

    But, let's be consiliatory, because, firstly, I am, and secondly, Wilson tells me to be, like a kindly grandfather, gathering the clans. Let us make some use of this meme that might be in the mind, if we can.

    So, where, coming from the performance model perspective, can I make use of this memeinthemind, or make it necessary? Well, just as Joe wants me to- a special case of algorithm in the mind which is only active prior to performance in the cultural venue- a venue-in-the-mind, if you will. Now, to me, this seems like gilding the lily, but, perhaps, just perhaps, there is a need for this certain setting of the mind in order to actually perform.

    I cannot swim, and therefore, for me to jump into a deep pool would be folly, and yet I can _imagine_ doing so, even dream of doing so, can write stories about swimmers, even imagine swimming like Johnny Weissmuller with Margaret O'Sullivan in that gorgeously erotic scene in Tarzan and his Mate. But, if I had the knowledge and skill to
    _actually_ swim, then I would have no trouble not only imagining this, but, in fact, _doing_ it, and this set of cognitive matches between skill and possibility are fairly unique, and there is no highly objectionable reason to not call them a 'meme', in this case, a meme for swimming like Johnny Weissmuller. And this is a condition of mind that is most probably unique to the human, or at least unique to a self-conscious social being, which is all that I can see culture needs in a performer.

    The actual performance itself, whether actual or dramatic (i.e. artifactual), is, of course, the only memetic entity that can be observed and selected.

    - Wade

    =============================================================== 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 : Wed 21 May 2003 - 14:23:52 GMT