Re: New Memes Book

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Fri 25 Mar 2005 - 16:45:30 GMT

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "Re: Kate's book/ "recessive memes""

    --- Kate Distin <> wrote:

    > Price, Ilfryn wrote:
    > >Kate
    > >
    > >Are you saying memes are discourses (sensu Derrida
    > an co). If so I am in full agreement.
    > >
    > >I haven't got round to your book yet, though I
    > confess to using the title as a section header in
    > mine (Price and Shaw 1998 p162)
    > >and I have just submitted 'The Selfish Signifier'
    > to J Memetics.
    > >
    > >As a matter of record whoever reviewed our book for
    > Oxford University press found 'the selfish meme',
    > and various others which we
    > >proposed 'too cute" - that was ca 1996 so the world
    > of academic publishing seems to have moved on or the
    > meme meme has mutated
    > >sufficiently to invade it.
    > >
    > >If Price
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > This is becoming a humblingly familiar refrain in my
    > posts, but I'm just
    > not familiar enough with Derrida to know whether
    > that's what I'm
    > saying! Could you explain a bit more about what he
    > says about discourses?
    > Wrt to the title - I was kind of surprised that
    > nobody had used it
    > before, and mildly surprised that nobody at the CUP
    > questioned my use of
    > it (though the subtitle was their suggestion not
    > mine). Richard
    > Dawkins certainly wishes I hadn't used it, but I was
    > naive enough not to
    > anticipate that either.
    In a sense the title "Selfish Meme" may have been used already where Dawkins himself was involved in the content of a videotaped lecture at Stanford University. See:

    OTOH when Dawkins coined the term "meme" I'm not sure if he was aware of Richard Semon's "mneme" concept where memory and heredity were made analogous or Julian Huxley's concept of "noogenetics" which was previous to Dawkins's work and quite similar from what I recall having read Huxley's arguments. I've posted on the mneme and on noogenetics several times on this list. A google search might turn those articles up for you.

    I wonder how familiar Dawkins was with memory research literature before he coined meme. I wonder if he knew of the Semon/Lashley engram concept. He published
    "Selective neurone death as a possible memory mechanism" in the journal _Nature_ in 1971. When people start positing memes as coded in the head, they collide with the Semon/Lashley engram.

    I'd assume he knew who Julian Huxley was since Huxley was integral to the crafting of the modern synthesis. Huxley's noogenetics IMO is much closer to memetics in its theoretical content than was Semon's mneme concept.



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