Re: New Memes Book

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Fri 18 Mar 2005 - 03:22:10 GMT

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    --- Kenneth Van Oost <> wrote:

    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: Kate Distin <>
    > You wrote,
    > > 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.
    > Hi there,
    > Maybe you are better off with the performance- model
    > of Wade T.Smith,
    > although most list members would disagree.
    Is Wade still lurking here? I haven't heard anything from him in a long time on this list. He had some fun with and got some serious mileage out of the performance model.
    > Memes in books and CD's ok, but what Smith proposed
    > ain 't stupid either.
    > By reading a ( certain) book in a specific
    > surrounding you express each time
    > a different meme. The meme is in the performance of
    > reading the book.
    > Every different meme would in that case be
    > represented by a / its different
    > performance.
    > Shooting the arrow is meaningless unless the
    > performance of shooting is set
    > in a specific place/ time and for a purpose. And
    > each time an arrow has been
    > shot for any purpose in any place and time possible
    > a different meme is
    > added in the memepool. Even in the different ways
    > the bow has been
    > stretched (different ) memes sprung to the light.
    > Memes in spoked wheels, no... but you can ' draw '
    > memes from it, by
    > talking about them; by taking pictures of it; in
    > trying to figure out how
    > they
    > are fabricated; etc...! Spoked wheels can be
    > representational for a certain
    > sub- cultural group, for a certain social class and
    > in that case they are
    > ' memes '.
    > Is this clear enough !?
    I've been reading some Skinner lately and he'd probably interject with some "contingencies of reinforcement" argument. It's funny how memetics has inherited (oops) the same problems as previous fields. The externalism or focus on overt behavior of the behaviorists contrasted with the internalism of proto-cognitivists like Hebb and Lashley much like we've seen with the schisms between those who focus on artefacts and overt behavior versus those likening memes to internal schema or engrams.

    Skinner had some interesting ideas, but he loses me when he starts knocking the notion of the mind and covert aspects of internal psychological processes. Yet talk about the ur-memetic engineer. That's primarily what Walden Two was about. I think I'd rather opt for Walden One in Masachusetts myself, but only because I fancy hermit radical transcendalists over white jacketed lab jockey coaxing rats to press levers for rewards.

    Skinner wasn't ignorant of evolution. There's some parts in _Beyond Freedom and Dignity_ where he's downright cogent on the topic. I was quite impressed by his understanding of nonaptive aspects of evolution. Wow! Can't saddle him with the overly simplistic ev psych SSSM label. He saw two sides of a coin, one concerned with reinforcement and the other with survival. He just happened to devote his research to the ontogenetic side of the coin, but not in the same manner as Piaget. BTW I read Skinner with the preconception that I was going to HATE him. I disagree with his behavioristic biases, but he's rather well argued in his manner. Big time! Plus I'm not sure I buy the point of Walden Two, but its a good contrast to the dystopian novels I've read.

    For phylogeny we can look to Lorenz who was well before Pinker's time ;-). I've been reading his
    "Russian Manuscript" and absolutely love his rendition of evolutionary Kantianism. Still rather perturbed by his war time affinities. He did write the manuscript in a Russian POW camp BTW. Fascinating guy nonetheless. Anyone who quote Goethe from memory for the hell of it during a discussion of comparative behavior is kinda interesting IMO. Still feeling some dissonance about him though. Yipes!

    Skinner and there's a juxtaposition of ideas for you.

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