Date: Sun 13 Jul 2003 - 21:09:07 GMT
In a message dated 7/7/2003 8:30:07 PM Central Daylight
Time, AaronLynch@aol.com writes:
> > > Currently, I am
> > >using the phrase "thought contagion" to denote "A memory
> > >item, or portion of an organism's neurally-stored
> > >information, identified using the abstraction system of the
> > >observer, whose instantiation depended critically on
> > >causation by prior instantiation of the same memory item in
> > >one or more other organisms' nervous systems."
> > Man that's complicated. But it boils down to a transmittable
> > pattern, an idea that spreads, or many other similar ways to put it.
> Yes, it is a little complicated. Hence, I also define the term
> less formally as "a self-propagating idea." That gets the gist
> of it across for those readers who are not looking for a
> formal technical definition, and is the way I handled it in
> my book.
Actually, although the definition of "thought contagion" as
given above is wordy, it is not conceptually complicated.
It is equivalent to the phrase "homoderivative mnemon" used
in my 1998 JOM paper and my 1991 JOI paper. But I have more
recently been relying less on neologisms, which seem to be
very distracting even to intelligent readers. The neologism
"homoderivative" can also give an impression of needlessly stilted prose, while the neologism "mnemon" can give a misimpression that I am claiming to have discovered some new kind of entity -- one whose existence would need to be tested with a microscope, for instance. All I really did with the term "homoderivative mnemon" was to label a specific subset of memory items already widely considered to exist by people who are not hard-core behaviorists. Avoiding neologisms leads to a wordy definition, but the core element of theory remains fairly simple.
When using the less formal term "self-propagating idea," I
never mean to conjure a notion of something whose formation
depends solely upon its own prior instances. That is, I am
not saying that there exists any such thing as a purely
self-replicating idea, or a purely self-replicating entity
of any other kind either. Rather, I am saying that one or
more prior instances played a critical role in causing the
new instantiation. For a given phenomenon (self-replicating
or not), one can usually make a long list of causal
precursors -- some of them distant or very abstractly
defined. For instance, one can (for what it's worth) list
the electron rest mass, supersymmetries, etc. as causal
factors for a war. A defining issue in deciding whether
something should be classified as self-replicating or not
is whether the potentially very long list of causal
precursor factors includes some prior instance of the same
Thanks for your interesting comments.
Thought Contagion Science Page:
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