RE: Encoding

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Tue 08 Jul 2003 - 09:48:26 GMT

  • Next message: Wade T. Smith: "Re: Memes and population size"

            Hi Joe,

            I think you highlight a central flaw in_both_models with these comments.

            <Wade is now reduced to maintaining that reading a written message
    > and hearing the same message spoken cannot possibly communicate
    > that selfsame message.>
            Whatever Wade's point here, your knowledge of semiotics and such like should at least make you acknowledge two things. First, that even exactly the same message can convey different meanings to different people
    (there are no absolutes of meaning inherent in a message, in any form). Second, it follows further that the same idea conveyed in different ways_may_succeed in conveying the same information, but again there's no guarantee of this.

            <He is also reduced to arguing that "God is
    > love" and "God is loathed" are necessarily closer together in meaning
    > than "God is love" and "God is infinite caring" because they
    > unquestionably are more similar performances.>
            Indeed, in one sense of the performance model you are right here I think.

            However, I think you're harping on about denotation, when in some senses the meme lies in the connotation. The denotation of 'God is love' might be, even unarguably is, easily transmissable and accessible. Indeed, if language wasn't easily transmissable at some level it would be of no use. But the connotation of 'God is love' is extraordinarily context-sensitive, and indeed content sensitive. 'God is love' and 'god is infinitely caring', in the connotative sense do not necessarily have consonant meaning.

            For those who may not know much about semiotics, which I know Joe does, the difference between denotation and connotation can be illustrated by examples. Saying a 'My car is a Rolls Royce', denotes that the speaker owns a Rolls Royce, but connotes all sorts of other possible meanings (that the speaker is rich, a show-off, in the UK they maybe aristocracy, in Hong Kong an average driver etc. etc.). Saying 'My car is a Porsche 911' again denotes that the speaker owns a Porsche 911, but connotes a whole other range of meanings associated with Porsche. Connotation in any message is highly sensitive to context and who is receiving the message.



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