From: Steven Thiele (email@example.com)
Next message: derek gatherer: "Re:"
Date: Sun 15 Feb 2004 - 22:57:06 GMT
At 12:38 PM 13/02/2004 -0500, you wrote:
Are you asserting that you are familiar with the work of all
Lawrence de Bivort
> The only way to understand social
> life is to
> study it, which memeticists...
> simply refuse to do.
> Steven Thiele
> University of New England
> Armidale NSW Australia
No, I am not familiar with the work of all memeticists. My point is not
that there are no memeticists studying social life at all, it is a more
general point that memetics did not begin with a study of social life -
the notion of memes does NOT derive from inquiry of any kind whatsoever.
Anyone who thinks scientifically should be immediately and strongly
suspicious of any notion that is not grounded via investigation. Why did
no many rush to embrace memetics? Whatever the answer is it has nothing
to do with scientific findings.
Second, memetics has, as far as I know, no worked out agenda of inquiry.
There is, again as far as I know, no attempt to jointly set out the
difficult questions that memetics needs to answer before it can be
considered a science. Questions such as:
Where do memes come from and how do they relate to genes?
How do memes explain the existence, workings and change of the full
range of social phenomena, including institutions, selves, and social
What elements of sociology are in tune with memetics and what are the
strongest challenges thrown up by sociology?
Those who call themselves memeticists are a very, very diverse bunch who
are offering utterly incompatible definitions of a meme and incompatible
explanations of social life. All that holds them together is the word
meme. This all adds up, in scientific terms, to a 'hill of beans'. Until
there is the beginnings of an agreed upon program, designed to solve
agreed upon disputes about what memes are and how they express themselves
as social life, or constitute social life, memetics cannot be taken
seriously as a science.
In two year time, memetics will be thirty years old (at least Dawkins
came up with the idea twenty eight years ago). If anything consequential
was going to come out of memetics, scientifically speaking, its shape
would already be emerging. It is well past the time when memetics can be
spoken of as new.
University of New England
ARMIDALE NSW 2351
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