Re: Polichak on memetics

From: Dace (
Date: Mon 02 Jun 2003 - 00:18:12 GMT

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    > From: Keith Henson <>
    > >Keith doesn't see the distinction between conscious agency and memetic
    > >agency because he doesn't recognize human self-determination in the first
    > >place. The unfortunate result is to claim for memetics not only
    > >culturally-transmitted habits but the intelligent thought that generates
    > >them. Memetics becomes a theory of everything and therefore of nothing.
    > Re human self-determination, I am with Marvin Minsky on this subject. It
    > does not matter that the laws of physics require everything to be either
    > causal or random, we (and that includes me) are constructed to think and
    > act as if we have self-determinism.

    Let's say event X can result in either event Y or event Z. If it turns out to be Y, we can always say-- after the fact-- that X caused Y. But did it really when the effect could just as easily have been Z? This is where systems theory comes in. Of the numerous possible choices that confront an organism at any given time, it will select whatever keeps it in systemic harmony, i.e. homeostasis. It's certainly not the case that the body is determined at the molecular level. Quite the contrary, the molecular level is a total mess, almost quantum-like in its lack of predictability. Organisms are determined at the level of the whole, not the part. We are systems, not machines.

    As far as culture goes, what we determine is precisely that which is not determined memetically.


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