Re: earliest memetics paper? and a question.

From: Francesca S. Alcorn (
Date: Fri 20 Feb 2004 - 18:08:31 GMT

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    > > > Ted said:
    >> >
    >> >This is where neural reductionism becomes incompatible with the study of
    >> >culture. Brains come in discrete units. If minds are really just
    >> >then a collective unconscious would require a collective brain. But a
    >> >is only one perspective onto a two-sided phenomenon. What is brain from
    >> >outside is consciousness from the inside. The underlying reality is
    >> >Unlike brains and consciousness, mind need not be individual and
    >> >Yes, we have individual minds, but these minds can be regarded as
    >> >*individuations* of collective mentality. Rather than six billion
    >> >of water, we have six billion waves rising and falling on a single ocean.
    >> Are you suggesting that the "organism" level of memetics is not
    >> culture but our collective mind?
    >Hi Frankie,
    >No, I would say that the cultural equivalent of organism is person. My
    >point, in keeping with Darwin, is that the person is the driving force of
    >cultural evolution, with memes (or genes in the case of natural evolution)
    >taking a back seat. Of course, Darwin never heard of genes, but he was
    >unimpressed with theories that emphasized "germ plasm" over organisms in
    >determining the direction of evolution.

    But in social animals, competition occurs *between groups* as well as between individuals. Prides of lions and troops of monkeys compete for territory much like individual birds do. And in the example of ants, the concept of individuals being the unit of selection is a bit of a stretch. Mutual interdependence decreases the importance of the individual. So only in non-social species is the individual the undisputable unit, and memetics isn't really applicable to non-social species.


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