Re: Defining the word "replicator" (was Re: Silent memes)

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Wed 06 Aug 2003 - 05:02:57 GMT

  • Next message: "Re: Defining the word "replicator" (was Re: Silent memes)"

    >From: Keith Henson <>
    >Subject: Re: Defining the word "replicator" (was Re: Silent memes)
    >Date: Wed, 06 Aug 2003 00:01:15 -0400
    >At 03:45 PM 01/08/03 -0400, Aaron wrote:
    >Re Richard Dawkins in 1982 in _The Extended Phenotype_, where he states:
    >>And on page 86, he offers this gem: "But let us not become
    >>worked up over terminology. Meanings of words are
    >>important, but not important enough to justify the
    >>ill-feeling they sometimes provoke..." A point that I, among
    >>others, should note.
    >I think as long as we understand that culture can be divided into
    >some-kind-of-units and those units are subject to variation and selection
    >over time, then exactly what terminology we use is not so important. Those
    >in broad agreement to this view can go on to more interesting study where
    >memetics plays a powerful role such as the misfit between our evolved
    >psychological tendencies and the world in which we find ourselves.
    We might want to back up the truck to your hyperdarwinian variation and selection scheme. That emphasis on selection is quite too dogmatic for my tastes. If we go on the memetic bandwagon analogizing these some-kind-of-units to genes, there's some serious implications if we take this analogy all the way to modern evolutionary theory. Variants of genes are alleles. You've got your variation bit covered there. There would
    *supposedly* be analogous variants of memes. Cultural evolution would thus be defined as changes in the frequencies of these memetic variants in a population over time. The catch, which avid Dawkins and Dennett worshippers probably fail to acknowledge as they see evolution through the wantonly selectionist lenses of their chosen gurus is that selection would, bringing
    *modern* evolution into the spotlight, only be *a* possible factor in changing these frequencies. Drift would be another factor. OTOH, why couldn't so called memetic variants be neutral? Could there be a neutral theory of cultural evolution to parallel that of molecular evolution?

    If memeticists want to wear the hats of analogizing geneticists, they've gotta go all the way. Wanton selectionism is just one pet peeve I've got with memetics.

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