Re: _Religion Explained_ by Pascal Boyer

From: Gudmundur Ingi Markusson (
Date: Mon 02 Jun 2003 - 11:00:11 GMT

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    I was only repeating my impression of Boyer's treatment of, and attitude towards, memes. While I am not convinced about memes, I am certainly not convinced about Sperber's theories, which constitute a major influence on Boyer.


    While I disagree with much of Boyer, I find the motivation behind his project most admirable, not the least his point that people belief because they find religious concepts (say, of super natural beings such as Hubbard) plausible. And although I think he is wrong, he does make the effort of suggesting an explanation why.



    Dace <> wrote:

    > From: Gudmundur Ingi Markusson
    > As Boyer is very interested in the transmission of concepts, esp.
    religious concepts, his ideas are certainly relevant to memetics. Nevertheless, note how he introduces memes only to dismiss them shortly afterwards. He does that with reference to Dan Sperber, on not dissimilar grounds as Sperber himself does in "Darwinizing Culture" (Aunger ed. 2000); in brief, concepts are not replicated but recreated.

    Dace: To understand a concept is indeed to recreate it in our minds. This is how ordinary discourse operates. You say something on your mind, and in the process of understanding it, I recreate the concept in my mind. Memetics is the study of those concepts (or behaviors, etc.) that *don't* depend on understanding to jump from mind to mind. If you're a Scientologist, you believe L. Ron Hubbard is a deity, not because it's reasonable and you've come to understand it, but because everyone you hang out with believes it, and you swallow the concept whole, so to speak, rather than breaking it down and reconstructing it according to reason.

    There is a place for replication, but it's limited. We cannot claim that all concepts are memes.

    Ted Dace

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