From: Reed Konsler (
Date: Tue 20 May 2003 - 15:20:55 GMT

  • Next message: Reed Konsler: "Clocks"

    Wade Says:
    "Yes...they are not the same performance, they are not the same meme. Yes.
    _All_ memes are unique. (All of them are, after all, the result of a three-part matrix any part or all of which is also influenced by aleatory forces.) But, these two memes you mention have relational characteristics enough so that a musical observer, or even someone simply not tone-deaf, would consider them very similar."

    I understand. But how does the observer relate one experience with the next? Doesn't there have to be some record of the first observation in the mind of the observer? Otherwise, every observation would seem totally novel. But, obviously, they don't. Why not?

    "They _ought_ to be the same, yes. They _are_ very closely related, yes. And, because they are so related, they form a continuing pattern, which can be recognized, as long as it continues, as, say, Alan's First Concerto."

    Two questions. First, what is the mechanism by which the pattern continues? You can't just say that one event is correlated with the next or that "the pattern continues"...that doesn't explain anything. To make a causal argument you have to at least give a hypothesis about the mechanism that allows one event to cause the next.

    The second is...well, it's really the question at the top. Why can I recognize Alan's First Concerto?

    > Now, I see what you're saying...why talk about the mind at all? ...Occam's
    Razor, right?


    Sure, I understood that. But Occam insists you choose the simplest model that explains all the observations. I'm not sure that second clause is fulfilled.

    "Your mind-meme is Razor'd in the performance model to memory alone."

    In a passive sense maybe. But mind-memes are more than just passive records...they are components of systems that actively manipulate their environment. For example, I might have a memory of Alan's First Concerto. But if I play the Concerto, or if I even take the mental effort to pay the attention to listen and identify it, that's active. It requires more than just the memory record and the performance.

    "As Keith has said, memetics does not need to know how memory works."

    You can't do science in much depth without at least proposing mechanisms. You can start talking about memetics without understanding neurobiology and cognitive science, sure. But to argue that you can ignore those fields forever is just silly. If someone *did* know how memory worked...would you learn from them, or not waste your time?

    "And, to me, the memeinthemind model is attempting just that, trying to explain how memory works."

    Proposing mechanisms, sure.

    "When a person communicates something, the memeinthemind model assumes some activity of some subclass of memory is prompting them to do so..."

    I don't think memes are a subclass of memory. But, yes, I do think a mind-virus is prompting the performance.

    "but, sorry, there are many actions that are prompted solely by autonomic or habitual response, and no memeinthemind is necessary for those."

    Accepted. But, if there are any performances that aren't solely autonomic or habitual, then there is potential utility in thinking about mind-memes.

    "the cognitive mechanisms of the brain are sufficiently explained without memesinthemind"

    I don't understand what you mean by 'cognitive mechanisms' there.

    "cultural evolution uses both intentional and non-intentional behaviors, as do people. It's a recent buzz phrase, but, 'comprehension is not requisite for cooperation.' "

    Yeah, I saw Reloaded. Despite the cool fight scenes, Matrix isn't the best source for philosophy or pithy sayings (except, of course, for "Whoa."). Comprehension is a requisite of cooperation. How can I cooperate with you if I can't understand your instructions? What Cornel West meant to say (or what the screenwriter should have given him) is 'agreement is not requisite for cooperation.' The commander understood the order the council was giving him and he understood why they were giving the order. He didn't agree with the order...which is why people establish chains of command.

    "Let's look at your sentence 'all you need to have a performance of Macbeth is two people and a space', which you, IMHO, totally threw've dismissed something else in your description of the minimum for Macbeth- the script."

    Do you mean the physical script? If I memorize the play I no longer need the physical artifiact.

    Do you mean the 'script' in the sense of the abstract content? The script doesn't contain any abstract content according to the performance model. Every performance is, itself, a unique performance-meme that signifies nothing. In that case there is no 'script', just the collection of performance-memes.

    I don't think you need a script.

    "And all the conventions of a play."

    Similarly, these can be memorized. In any event, they aren't physical, so you can't actually argue they are required since you can never be sure that they are or aren't present. Unless you are willing to allow us to infer the existence of things we can't see?

    "The fact that each human will be required to take up several roles."

    Patrick Stewart does a nice solo performance of A Christmas Carol.

    "And speak clearly. And understand the speech."

    Abstract, you can't be sure when that is present.

    "And, yes, get a certain set of props."

    Why? Are you saying I can't do Macbeth if I lose the skull? Why do you think one uses the phrase "prop up an argument?" Props are aids, not requirments.

    "What the performance _needs_, besides the two humans, _is_ the cultural venue."

    OK, but I still assert that all elements of the cultural venue are peripheral and could be disposed of except for the irreducable elements of two people and a unit of spacetime in which the performance may occur.

    "And a single human brain is not enough to provide the cultural venue"

    Agreed, it would take two brains.

    "but a single human brain, in this case Willy the Shake, _is_ enough to provide the _description_ of the cultural venue."

    And this description is...what...a 'memory'? Shakespeare didn't remember Macbeth.

    "And, as long as an audience is maintained for the appreciation of Shakespearian plays, there will be performances of them, maintained by the continuing performances, matched in relation to the description, within cultural venues, for understanding audiences."

    That doesn't make any sense to me. Were you trying to circular on purpose, becuase I read it twice, got dizzy, and decided it wasn't worth the effort.

    > I would have a tendency to call that pre-performance-meme that is being
    > maintained in the portion of the cultural venue composed of human
    > brains
    > (probably the most significant part) a mind-meme.

    Why all these classifications and sub-classifications of memes? Isn't one multiplied entity enough for youse memeintheminders?

    Actually, I still think there is only one kind: the mind-meme. Like I said before, I think performances are expressions, like phenotypes. But, I'm still entertaining the idea (becuase I find it interesting) that there could be (even exclusively be) performance-memes.

    To be frank with you, the more I understand it, the less I buy it. So, you might want to focus your effort on something more productive.

    "When and if we work out how memory works, perhaps we'll find a specific memory-part that is distinctly required for cultural development, but, honestly, I don't think we will, regardless of the battery of scientific instrumentation."

    [shrug] That's a pointless statement.

    "When one designs a road, one creates the parameters of the performances on it- you drive your car upon it and not the grass. A line is drawn down the middle and, you drive this way on this side, and that way on that side. When one road crosses another, you put up stop signs. The venue is maintaining parameters of performance, and deviations from the expected performances are prosecuted. Each cultural venue is so created and maintained."

    If I show up in the undiscovered country and create a network of roads from scratch then there was no venue except that of my brain. I can understand that there aren't any performances untill somone else experiences the roads but the only irreducable part of the venue is a single brain. Everything else is a prop.

    Did you ever see _Good Morning Vietnam_? At the end, Cronaer and the students play what is a recognizable game of baseball with mellons and a stick. At one point a student says, in halting English, "we need a ball." Cronaer looks at him, smiles apologetically, and says "this is what we have."

    > why does
    > it appear that there are performances that mirror each other?

    "Because each performance is constrained to a set of parameters. A baseball game is only a baseball game when the rules of baseball are applied to a group of players with bats and balls and gloves."

    Yeah. I just fundamentally disagree with that. If I play computer baseball against my friend on X-Box then that is a game of baseball. If two people sit in an empty room and create a role-playing fantasy then that, too, is a game of baseball. Both of these things would be recognizable to a third party as "baseball" and, given enough time, even a conversation in an empty room would allow a person to generate another performance of baseball with whatever props were available.

    "And the rules of baseball come from the cultural venue."

    Which is reduceable to a single brain.

    "And each cultural venue is doing the same thing, maintaining a set of parameters and expecting a set of performances"

    It sounds like you are claiming that the venue has some agency. Is that true?



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