Re: the meme/brain problem

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Thu 05 Feb 2004 - 02:17:32 GMT

  • Next message: Steven Thiele: "Re: memes and culture"

    At 09:42 AM 05/02/04 +1100, Steven wrote:
    >At 01:49 PM 4/02/2004 -0800, Ted wrote:
    >>Bruce recognizes the importance of case studies and requests one definitive
    >>example. He also insists that we narrow the field by identifying where,
    >>specifically, the memetics model applies. I fully agree. I think the chief
    >>reason for the failure of memetics to be widely accepted as a science is its
    >>attempt to reduce all of culture to a memetic struggle for survival (and the
    >>corresponding illusion that this can render the study of culture into a
    >>"hard" science).
    >Yes, and the reason for this reduction is simple. It is supported by those
    >who believe that all of biology is a genetic struggle for survival.

    Again, I can't think of anyone who takes that hard a line on genetics. As important as genes are, there are lots of other factors. One of the major themes of modern biology is cooperation and co-evolution. Our very cells are an example of fusion and cooperation of different lines. Then there are all sort of ecological considerations.

    >So as soon as memes are proposed as analagous to genes, the automatic
    >belief is that 'all of culture is a memetic struggle for survival'. Since
    >the first belief if dubious, the second is even more so.

    I don't know where you find such simplicity. I sure don't see it. Can you cites reliable sources who take such a simplistic line?

    >The idea that memetics is more scientific than social science is baseless
    >- neither are scientifically oriented.

    As I have mentioned, I am an engineer, but I respect the scientific approach. I do think that if you are going to get anywhere with understanding memes, it is going to be through evolutionary psychology approaches.

    Keith Henson

    >Steven Thiele

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