Kate's book/ representations

From: Scott Chase (osteopilus@yahoo.com)
Date: Fri 25 Mar 2005 - 18:15:05 GMT

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    This is probably the most difficult aspect of your book (ie- "representations"), but since its the ket point of your view on memes, it is the most important. For you. if I understand correctly the analogy of cultural DNA rests upon the notion of representational content and our possession of things called memes is facilitated by our ability to metarepresent, meaning the ability to make representations of representations or go from notions to concepts.

    I'm taking some time to digest your discussion of representations. I think it's nifty and you take a different approach to Sperber in that You lean towards replication over transformation and see more merit in the memetic view. I'm not comfortable enough with the subjct matter to address where you depart from views of other memeticists like Blackmore, Dennett, and Aunger, but you have helped clarify some of the important issues in memetic controversies.

    As for representations, this might help me a little in my taxonomy of notions about ideas. It could help tie together engrams, archetypes, and collective representations for instance. Engrams would have representational content as far as they are encoded in individual brains based uon external observations that the indivdual will possible recall again and perhaps transmit to others. Archetypes would have representation content in that they are based pon commonalities shared by cultures as reflected in mythological motifs or what not. Collective representations are more externalized than archetypes, since for Jung, part of archetypal content stems from our heritable psychic architecture, where Durkheim's concept was more of a floating abstraction not as dependent upon individual psychology (ie sui generis).

    Nonetheless engrams, archetypes and the socifacts of Durkheim's system are each representational in their own realms and share this property with memes as you have presented them.

    Engrams are individualized representations in memory. We all have our memories and they might be somewhat unique for each of us. Yet, at some point these memoies have a shared aspect which could be considered memetic in nature.

    Archetypes are cultural representations based upon shared properties of a modular mind (looking to ev psych). In this sense archetypes are akin to what Eddie Wilson called culturgens which were based on so-called epigenetic rules.

    Socifacts are cultural representations that are perhaps grounded in the cultural realm itself and not as dependent upon the makeup of the individual mind. This is how sociology can assert itself as an autonomous science, I suppose.

    I'm not too familiar with Durkheim, even after having read him several times. You had mentioned having more to say about him. Could you elaborate on your views of Durkheim a little here? This place is informal enough where I doubt you have to worry about embarassing yourself. It never stopped me ;-)

    I couldn't help thinking when you presented the token/type distinction that this is similar to the archetype/ectype distinction, I think. The archetype is like an abstract floating Platonic Idea where the ectype is coined from this Idea and is a concrete and imperfect representation that appears in the real world (sort of like Kant's distinction between noumenal and phenomenal realms). But in a less Platonic/Kantian way, archeypes are general and ectypes are specific, just like dogs are members of a species in a more generalized group called vertebrates. They still have a vertebrate body plan even if they differ from dogfish.

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