Origin of memes

From: Chris Taylor (Christopher.Taylor@man.ac.uk)
Date: Wed 18 Jun 2003 - 14:37:12 GMT

  • Next message: Richard Brodie: "RE: Origin of memes"

    Hi. I'm a much more extreme meme-ist than most here I think, because most (I would surmise) see memes as a high order phenomenon, whereas I prefer to think of memes (maybe I need a better word) as fundamental to all but our basest animal stuff (face recognition, fear, the stuff you can't lie about because it is part of the hard-wired honesty required for social living). In essence I see (metaphorically speaking) atomic level patterns, which are built into higher order structures (memes of varying levels of complexity, up to memeplexes). These structures vary wildly between people depending on the structuring of the meme(plexe)s within them (what is a 'black box', and what has internal structure etc., the general approach to structure [range, depth, branching] and so on), various aspects will vary widely.

    This leads me to (inter alia) two conclusions: 1) There are memes in our minds (many of which will be too 'small' to ever be performed as such) 2) The type and degree of structuring of these memes varies

    So performances (i.e. phenotypic-level copying) will vary, and the memes in our minds will also differ (in all cases) to some degree because we try to knock up things that replicate a phenotype, with no real idea of
    (or hope of replicating) internal structure.

    Now the reason I mention this is to ask the question how did memes come into existence - how did we move from programmed behaviour to acquired?

    I wonder if predator's search images provide us with a selected-for starting point, or whether we need to go lower - note that I don't consider operant conditioning to produce memes. The reason I picked search images is that organisms tend to be programmed to spot movement, but if your prey isn't moving, how can you pick them out from the environment? So if you factor in the fact that we are 'looking' at a sensory encoding of the world (enhanced edges, movement detection etc.) then if the search image is applied, what appears to be just more pattern will actually stand out from its background in the mind of (say) a bird, because the search image is already separate from the background in the internal representation. Big advantage in response to freezing + crypsis by prey, therefore selectable. I'm not sure that's entirely clear but I'd like someone to offer an opinion because there seems to be little discussion about how we _got_ to a memetic world.

    Cheers, Chris.

      Chris Taylor (chris@bioinf.man.ac.uk)
      http://pedro.man.ac.uk/ »people»chris

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed 18 Jun 2003 - 14:46:16 GMT