Re: Online Paper: "Ideas are Not Replicators but Minds Are" by Liane Gabora

From: Keo Ormsby (
Date: Fri 24 Oct 2003 - 03:54:36 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Re: Online Paper: "Ideas are Not Replicators but Minds Are" by Liane Gabora"

    At 01:26 p.m. 18/10/2003 -0400, you wrote:

    >>The point that was interesting, was the argument for cultural evolution
    >>using non coded primitive replicators, whatever they may be.
    >"Non coded primitive replicators" reminds me of "arithmetic without
    >numbers" or perhaps "chemistry without elements."
    >Keith Henson

    I don't believe the "coding" part is as essential for a replicator as numbers to arithmetic. In the paper by Gabora, she points to the view that primitive replication was carried out by polymers that only used existing substrates to directly make copies of themselves. In this sense the replicators only used building blocks already existing in the primordial soup, but had no influence on the composition of its surroundings, except perhaps by depleting those building blocks from the soup. One can easily imagine that certain polymers arose that were more efficient physicochemically and therefore became more frequent in the population, so that there was natural selection. This would be the non coding replication. In the case of modern organisms, DNA doesn't just wait for building blocks to fall into place, but is actually a blueprint (code) for actively changing its surroundings into its replicating machine (organism) that actively collects and synthesizes the building blocks. So we have two extremes of a subtly graded continuum, on the one hand, replicators that float in a soup of preexisting building blocks, and on the other replicators that are decoded into machines that create the building blocks. The part that I found interesting is that when you try to make the analogy with memes, the question arises of which stage is memetic evolution at? Are memes tossed in a preexisting primordial soup (a meme-independent preexisting mind)? or do memes construct their own environment according to some rules (a meme-only constructed mind)? Or perhaps midway? Of course this question has been raised before, but I thought (personally) that it was interesting to see that it followed from this analysis.

    Keo Ormsby.

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