Re: Re: memetics-digest V1 #1480

From: Joel.M Dimech (
Date: Fri 27 Feb 2004 - 08:43:20 GMT

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    > Message du 20/02/04 00:40
    > De : Steven Thiele

    "Memeticians are so caught up...If anyone claims to be explaining social life, the first thing they need to do is to lay out what they are trying to explain. What are the phenomena that constitute social life? This requires both investigation and a long conversation with sociology". Last january I was browsing through the WWW, surprise: the screen displayed Journal of Memetics. Up to then I thought memes came to us from the active imagination of sci-fi novelists, I even thought meme was the shakiest sci-fi idea I had ever met. To paraphrase Scott Chase, and not James Hadley Chase, I have a psychobiological bias towards mentifacts. Social life is all what isn't cultural life, and nor psychological expressions. I think it's a good start, two sides and edge. This is a perfect coin.
    "If sociology had made a substantial contribution to the understanding of social life there would be no room for deficient explanations like memetics. Memetics only survives because sociology has largely failed in it self appointed task". The investigation in my field (cultural and information processes) is slightly in disagreement with you. The field of memetics do not belong the field of sociology. As to the word "deficient" I agree, something goes wrong in the analogy meme/gene, replicator/selfish gene, meme = units of cultural transmission that propagate themselves. The development of the fertilized egg is a synergy, and the phenomenon that allows "selfish genes" is a break of synergy. The case "selfish genes" is prompted by the in vitro experimental condition (poor environment), some genes can't express since they have not a full support, while other genes benefit from the unused partial support, and then look "selfish". The equivalent phenomenon exists in cultural processes, but the very same as the biological case it comes from special conditions. The concept of "selfish gene" is inconsistent with the definition memes = units of cultural transmission that propagate themselves. "Selfish genes" do not propagate themselves, their environment propagates them, and here is the anomaly. The very same as for genes and living beings, in the general cultural case memes do propagate themselves. In the general cultural case, memes have the property to affect the "mind", that is to say to modify its living order in such a way that their propagation is a mutual benefit. The phenomenon of mutual benefit is cooperation, i.e. another word for synergy.

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