Re: earliest memetics paper? and a question.

From: Francesca S. Alcorn (
Date: Fri 13 Feb 2004 - 23:04:09 GMT

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    > I've also wondered, how memetics would deal with the issue of
    >archetypal signs? Are they just a fundamental meme-set that is
    >common to nearly all cultures? Are they a fundamental part of the
    >pysche seperate from meme's? If so how do they interact and select
    >for memes? I think this is of great philosophical importance for
    >memetics, th!

    I think of archetypes as a by-product of sorts. They are based on universal social roles (mother, father, king, warrior, temptress) and a process called "splitting". This means that we take the two aspects of the same person and split them into two different people. The good mother and the wicked stepmother are really two aspects of the same flawed human parent. Splitting like this is a universal human activity - occurs in almost all cultures in the fables and mythology - and is probably a result of our limited brain structure. Splitting is also associated with younger children - as we grow we become capable of more sophisticated ways of understanding the world. So archetypes are a result of universal human experiences (we all have mother figures) and biology (our brains tend to "split" experieces into "good" or "bad").

    But the particulars of the archetypes vary from culture to culture. I am not an expert in this field, but have been poking around looking at different models of the goddess as they are manifested in different cultures. In China Kwan Yin is the goddess of mercy, and in pre-Christian Europe the goddess was associated with fertility. Someone with a good background in comparative mythology could probably give us quite an earful about the evolution of mythological archetypes and how the larger culture shapes the qualities that are perceived as good/evil which are assigned (or projected) onto them. And that, to me, is where the memetics would come in.


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