RE: reply to Benzon

From: Ray Recchia (
Date: Wed 28 May 2003 - 03:01:06 GMT

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

    At 06:41 PM 5/27/2003 -0700, you wrote:
    >It only took me two tries to find a paper that seemed to resonate with your
    >point of view:
    >He claims memes aren't replicators because it is likely that the same
    >phenotypic characteristic can be transmitted with a completely different
    >mental rule in the recipient from the one used by the originator. I call
    >that mutation. Clearly something is being transmitted, and it is likely that
    >in several generations of transmission the set of internal rules (he uses
    >the example of how to position the mouth to make the "pf" sound in the
    >German word "apfel") will settle down to a small set.

    This is the reason that Robert Aunger would not refer to anything outside the mind as a meme. He called these 'signals' that would trigger replication when a mind with a similar background was reached. E=mc2 means something very different to a trained physicist than it does to the average Joe on the street. For Joe on the street, E=mc2 is that famous equation Einstein came up with that has something to do with how energy is gotten out of nuclear reactions. To a trained physicist E=mc2 fits into a network of other equations and observations and has a much different meaning. Either average Joe or the physicist could pass on E=mc2 with different mental memes resulting depending on the recipient.

    'A zygote is just a gamete's way of making another gamete' is an old inside joke for biologists but could be applicable here. Put another way 'A human is just a sperm's method of making more sperm'. Human gametes can be viewed as organisms with 24 chromosomes, while zygotes can be viewed as organisms with 48. Each is very different from the other and each depends on the other's existence in a chain of reproduction.

    The expression of a mental meme is both phenotype and potentially an element in a chain of reproduction. In this sense expression and mental state are like gamete and zygote, each alternating over cycles and each using to manifest themselves. Each though is potentially capable of reproducing using a variety of different manifestations in other media. The physicist's concept of E=mc2 can be reproduced in a variety of different languages, in either written language or spoken language. E=mc2 the expression is also capable of being reproduced in a variety of different mental manifestations, either that of average Joe, or the trained physicist. As long as there is eventual replication, memetic transfer has occurred.

    Ray Recchia

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