Re: New Memes Book

From: Kate Distin (
Date: Tue 15 Mar 2005 - 16:10:03 GMT

  • Next message: Chris Taylor: "Re: New Memes Book"

    Vincent Campbell wrote:

    >You should check out the archives of the list for some lambasting of
    >Aunger's book. I must admit it quite put me off reading it- as most of the
    >criticism was very neuroscience, and beyond me, so I thought I couldn't read
    >it without worrying that it sounded ok to me, but probably wasn't.
    >Actually if you go further back into the archives you'll find lambasting of
    >Blackmore's and Lynch's books too.
    I suppose I should brace myself!

    >So where are you in the 'what are memes?' war- memes in the mind? memes in
    >behaviour? memes in artefacts? some combination of the lot? memes as merely
    >a metaphor? memes as a crazy, silly idea thought up by people with nothing
    >better to do in their lives?
    Not crazy, not silly and probably not merely a metaphor. Having started out as a memes-agnostic, exploring the idea as an intellectual exercise more than anything, I am now much more of a realist about them.

    Memes in the mind - yes. Memes in behaviour and/or artefacts - it depends what you mean by "behaviour" and "artefacts": memes in artefacts like books and CDs - definitely; memes in spoked wheels (to use one of Dennett's examples) - no. Memes, on my view, are fundamentally representational, so anything that isn't a representation can't be a meme. This turns out to be a key point on which I disagree with Dennett and Blackmore in particular, both of whom use a lot of examples based on things that I don't see as memes at all. The other major point at which our views diverge is their claim that the mind is a meme-complex. I think we can have our cake and eat it: that memetics is compatible with a conventional view of the conscious human mind.


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