Re: Individual - Collective / digest V1#1480

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Wed 25 Feb 2004 - 08:15:36 GMT

  • Next message: William Benzon: "Re: Individual - Collective / digest V1#1480"

    At 03:37 PM 25/02/04 +1100, you wrote:
    >At 11:09 PM 24/02/2004 -0500, you wrote:
    >>At 10:19 AM 25/02/04 +1100, you wrote:
    >>>At 06:22 PM 24/02/2004 -0500, you wrote:
    >>>>At 09:12 AM 25/02/04 +1100, Steven wrote:
    >>>>> but if its practitioners are unwilling to enter into dialogue with
    >>>>> sociology
    >>>>Pot, kettle.
    >>>>Keith Henson
    >>>My dialogue with memetics is my contribution to this site. It may not be
    >>>to everyones' liking, but this is not the issue.
    >>I don't mind reasoned disagreement. However, what you have been doing is
    >>not dialogue.
    >>Keith Henson
    >My disagreement with (much of) memetics is strongly reasoned.

    I don't see how it can be. You don't understand memetics. Nobody can reason about something they don't understand.

    >It derives from a worked out position which I have tried, given the limits
    >of exchange on a site like this, to set out as clearly as I can.

    Oh? Let me quote a bit from up thread.

    >>>My guess is that many caught up in memetics were once caught up in

    Can you name many or even *one* person who writes on memetics who was "once caught up in genetics"?

    Let's go to the web site associated with this list,

    "The History of the Memetic Approach

    At least since the early seventies several authors have tried to adopt the principle of evolution by selection to understand the continuous change in cultural behaviors (Boyd [1], Calvin [2], Campbel [6], Cloak [7]). Richard Dawkins popularized the memetic approach. He coined the term 'meme' as an analog to the biological unit of inheritance, the gene or the genetic replicator (Dawkins [11], [12]). The rather simple distinction between genetic replicators as 'genes' on the one hand, opposed to all non-genetic replicators as 'memes' has been firmly imprinted in the evolutionary thinking about cultural information (Dennett [14, 15, 16], Hays & Plotkin
    [18], Hofstadter [21], Hull [23, 24, 25], Lynch [28, 29], Westoby [35])."


    Boyd started in physics, his doctorate is in ecology, he is now a Professor in Anthropology.

    Calvin (who I know and highly admire) started in electrical engineering. He is theoretical neurobiologist and a major author.

    Campbell was a Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology and Education at Lehigh University.

    Cloak (who I know) is an anthropologist. Aaron Lynch put his excellent work on the memetic evolution of the wheel on a web site. (Where again Aaron?)

    Dawkins (you look him up).

    Dennett's background is cognitive science and he is a Professor of Philosophy and a major author.

    Hays and Plotkin are from psychology.

    Hofstadter (who I know slightly) has a physics background, He is currently a professor of cognitive science and computer science

    Hull's background is philosophy with a wide range of other interests.

    Lynch was (IIRC) from high energy physics.

    Westoby "was an authoritative writer on communism and on the theory of education"

    Of the writers not on the list, Bordie's background is software design. His book gets used as a sociology text book. Vajk's background is physics and software. His 1989 article is here:| I'm an electrical engineer, my stuff is all over the net, the most recent here:

     From a fast look at their CVs, none of these people seems to have had a former interest in genetics, though I would bet they all understand it.

    >>>Instead of seeing that the drive to find the 'key' is doomed to
    failure, they have just swapped one 'key' for another.

    This is just ridiculous. Most of these people are (or were) polymaths of a high degree who would not simplify where it was not justified. Look at Calvin's work. Genes and memes and climate cycles and birth bottlenecks and precision timing for throwing rocks and from there into proposing how brains support thoughts and ultimately minds. I have been reading his work for over ten years. You could spend weeks reading his web site.

    How many of the papers or books listed on the JoM web site have you read? I have not read all of them, but I have read a fair number.

    >>>Instead of seeing that the drive to find the 'key' is doomed to
    failure, they have just swapped one 'key' for another.

    >It takes two to have a dialogue, and sometimes positions are so far apart
    >that this is not possible. But, by itself, this says nothing about the
    >value of either position.

    I repeat, how many of the papers or books listed on the JoM web site have you read?

    Keith Henson

    PS. It took me a while to find the last author so here is the pointer

    I think it is a bit over complicated due to a lack of applying evolution/evolutionary psychology to some of the models, but it gets the idea over.

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