RE: Is there any meme left to talk about !?

From: Lawrence DeBivort (
Date: Fri 21 Nov 2003 - 15:08:45 GMT

  • Next message: "Re: Is there any meme left to talk about !?"

    Greetings, Derek,

    I understand you to be saying that we had better not think of memes as being inside the head because then we can't study them.

    But we can: we can quite adequately (for now, at least) study the 'memes in the head' through the linguistic manifestation of those ideas. We can do so actively, as well as passively. (Of course, we have to have some understanding of linguistics in order to do so. So perhaps if one is trained in and interested in biology and neurology this approach is unattractive.)

    An analogy may be the study of sub atomic particles with bubble chambers: we see the traces of the particles; we don't see the particles themselves.

    We know that the 'memes-in-the-head'/linguistic approach works, for this approach is the bedrock upon which our memetic research is being done today, successfully, and has already yielded important and applied results. We do not, by common consent, discuss this here, but it is happening.

    1998 is right! Back then, I sort of gave up on the mainstream memetic discussions -- it seemed bogged down in approaches that weren't going to yield solid and interesting results. So in terms of the memetic 'community' I have been, quite happily, only on the edges, listening and learning, and hoping that some day a 'space' might emerge in which it was appropriate to discuss our work.

    I say this, I suppose, as much 'for the record' as for any other reason.

    Cheers, Lawry

    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: []On Behalf
    > Of derek gatherer
    > Sent: Fri, November 21, 2003 4:11 AM
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: Is there any meme left to talk about !?

    > Yes, but wrongly. Geertz was a pioneer (the paper you
    > cite is from 1964) of the ideational theory of culture
    > - ie. the notion that culture exists inside people's
    > heads, and that artefacts and behaviours etc are
    > epiphenomenal in some way. The descendent of this
    > school in memetics are the 'internalists' who maintain
    > that memes are all in the head too. There are
    > numerous philosophical problems with this of varying
    > degrees of severity, but most importantly it puts
    > memetics in a methodological impasse, as internalism
    > requires memetics to be a quantitative science of
    > entities that cannot be quantified.
    > Gosh, it's been ages since I've been able to post on
    > this subject. Feels like 1998 all over again!!

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