From: Scott Chase (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri 25 Mar 2005 - 18:15:05 GMT
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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