Re: earliest memetics paper? and a question.

From: Dace (
Date: Mon 23 Feb 2004 - 20:43:27 GMT

  • Next message: Steven Thiele: "Re: Individual - Collective / digest V1#1480"

    > From: "Francesca S. Alcorn" <>
    > > > > Ted said:
    > >> >
    > >> >This is where neural reductionism becomes incompatible with the study
    > >> >culture. Brains come in discrete units. If minds are really just
    > >brains,
    > >> >then a collective unconscious would require a collective brain. But
    > >brain
    > >> >is only one perspective onto a two-sided phenomenon. What is brain
    > >the
    > >> >outside is consciousness from the inside. The underlying reality is
    > >mind.
    > >> >Unlike brains and consciousness, mind need not be individual and
    > >discrete.
    > >> >Yes, we have individual minds, but these minds can be regarded as
    > >> >*individuations* of collective mentality. Rather than six billion
    > >buckets
    > >> >of water, we have six billion waves rising and falling on a single
    > >>
    > >>
    > >> 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
    > >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.
    > frankie

    We may be social, but we're not ants. And even among ants, adaptations must
     be made by individuals before they can be incorporated into group behavior. Of course, that individual adaptations provide the raw material for evolution doesn't change the fact that what actually evolve are groups.


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