Re: Whacking on memetics

From: Steven Thiele (
Date: Mon 16 Feb 2004 - 22:36:13 GMT

  • Next message: Richard Brodie: "RE: Whacking on memetics"
    From Keith Henson:

    Memetics is a very simple little corner of knowledge, in math it would be a lemma.  None of the works of people on memes makes the claim it *can* explain anything beyond the obvious that elements of culture are subject to Darwinian evolution.

    If this is all anyone working in memetics claimed, then there would be no reason to take issue with memetics. It is possible that some elements of culture (again, why is the word culture used over and over again when what is at issue is social life?) are selected in a way more or less similar to the way genes are selected (though whether this is usefully called Darwinian and whether it is obvious is an issue). But the promise of memetics, taken up by many, is that it will explain social life in some general way - in more or less the same way that genetics explains biological life. Surely this is what Dawkins was suggesting in the Selfish Gene, or what many have interpreted him as saying.

    If memetics only explains some aspects of social life, then what doesn't it explain and what explains the rest? What is the relationship between memes and the other sources of social creativity?

    Why are these difficult questions not being addressed?

    The problem with posting like that offered by Keith is that they are ideosyncratic. Keith thinks he has the answer to everything to do with memes (for all I know he may be right), yet almost no one else agrees with him. If someone came to this website, what view would they get of memetics?

    Steven Thiele

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