RE: reply to Benzon

From: Richard Brodie (
Date: Fri 23 May 2003 - 22:28:31 GMT

  • Next message: William Benzon: "Re: reply to Benzon"

    Wade wrote:

    > What exactly is "non-menatlist" memetics? Do you have a model of
    > cultural
    > evolution that does not involve minds?

    <<I can't speak for Bill, but what I understand as his (and my) meaning of 'non-mentalist' is simply any theory of cultural evolution
    (memetics) that does not demand any specific or necessary unit of mental agency called the 'meme' which resides in a brain.>>

    Can it enter the brain at all, or is that prohibited? If your non-mentalist meme can enter the brain, how long is it allowed to stay before it "resides" there? In Nevada, it would be six weeks. ;)

    <<That is to say, any theory that requires the mental non-residency of the quantum memetic unit, which is, by convention of definition, to be called the meme. The smallest possible replicator.>>

    A meme is not the "smallest possible replicator." It is a cultural replicator by anyone's definition, and an information replicator involving minds in the mainstream memetics definition. I don't know where you came up with "quantum unit."

    Genes are also replicators, but they are not memes (unless genetic engineering is involved!).

    <<A theory of memetics that involves only artifacts is a non-mentalist theory. The performance theory is another. Gatherer's memes, or G-memes, are non-mental. Bill's phemotype (cultural phenotype) theory is another.>>

    How can a theory involve "only artifacts"? You mean there are no people around? This is all very unclear to me.

    A phenotype, by definition, is the machine the replicator builds that works to get the replicator replicated. It is not the replicator itself. So Bill's theory fits right into mainstream memetics unless he maintains that minds are not involved in making performances.

    <<All these theories get most of the work done, but some of them are trimmer and lighter on their feet.>>

    I don't see how any of these theories can begin to explain cultural evolution without involving information copied to and from minds.

    Richard Brodie

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