From: Vincent Campbell (VCampbell@dmu.ac.uk)
Date: Tue 17 Feb 2004 - 11:24:49 GMT
<again, why is the word culture used over and over again when what
is at issue is social life??
Been trying to avoid posting, as generally my interests have been piqued by non-memetic sub-threads to messages, and I want to contribute more relevant stuff (so list contributing becomes meaningful, rather than displacement, activity). Plus my sysadmin keeps sending me nasty messages about having a full mailbox...
Anyway, this comment stands out a mile. I think you need to clarify and
justify this extensively. Memetics is about culture- the artefacts,
practices and, some would say, beliefs common to societies. "Social life",
well I'm not quite sure what you mean by this- everyday social interactions?
or do you mean it in the colloquial sense of having a social life- i.e.
friends and leisure activities etc.? do you mean it in the sense of
institutional roles and relationships i.e. our positions, functions within
If it's the first of these, then to apply evolutionary theory to that all
you really need is evo psych. But what evo psych doesn't seem able to
explain is cultural trends- i.e. those that are evident across hundreds of
miles, millions of people, indeed sometimes stretching across nations and
continents. Does memetics offer better explanatory prospects? Still a
question being worked on.
Any clarifications you can offer?
(Incidentally, I have been thinking more about the slating of social science
from some on the list with no consideration whatsoever of entire branches of
social science that have never bought into the solipsism, relativism and
blank slate-ism (is there a proper term for that?) of other parts of the
discipline, and routinely engage in very important studies that the natural
sciences never touch upon. One are, that I'm very familiar with is
political communication/journalism studies. Extend this into public
understandng of science/science communication work- work of real importance
to those scientists concerned about the wider dissemination of their work
but dismissive of the specialists in analysing the means of disseminating
that work, and you've got another area of important, valid, and credible
social science research. To me memetics isn't a natural science idea taking
over from necessarily wrong social science approaches, it's a proper social
science, in principle anyway, in which the discoveries of the natural
sciences are used to ground investigation of culture. To criticise all
social science for some parts' youthful mistakes, would be to dismiss all of
Aristotle, say, because his science was essentially, and fundamentally,
wrong, even though it helped lay the groundwork for ways of thinking about
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