RE: Cultural Imperialism as Idea & Meme

From: Richard Brodie (
Date: Tue 17 Jun 2003 - 22:26:10 GMT

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    > [Any] model of memetics is useful only to the extent that it clearly
    > demarcates memetic and non-memetic cultural transmission.

    <<Such demarcation is _mandatory_ for memetics, because memetics is a discussion of culture, not a discussion of information.>>

    Memetics is a model of cultural evolution through differential selection of replicators. Non-memetic cultural transmission would be the transmission of cultural information that cannot fruitfully be viewed as a replicator. Keith has pointed out examples of such things. I don't see the difference between a "very bad replicator" and "not a replicator," but it's not worth arguing over.

    > This is a very illuminating example of the difference between ideas
    > that passively replicate via human consciousness and self-replicating
    > (memetic) ideas.

    I missed the example, but there is no difference between the two other than point of view. It is a conceptual error to think of a replicator as having conscious intention or physical movement. It can do all its replication passively.

    <<And the model of memetics that defines the meme as a self-replicating idea is the one most mistaken about culture. There is no way to demarcate how an idea replicates, or even if such a process is possible. Indeed, your entire sentence above is nonsensical and illogical, by any definition of 'idea'.>>

    Unfortunately for you, that's what memetics is: the study of the self-replicating idea. And of course you continue to close your eyes to the obvious idea replication going on all around you. Fair Harvard, thy sons to thy jubilee throng...

    Richard Brodie

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