Re: Kate's book/ representations

From: Kate Distin (
Date: Sat 26 Mar 2005 - 11:35:49 GMT

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    Scott Chase wrote:

    >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.
    Yes. Like Keith, for me memes are basically informational, and the way that information is represented is the key to what we might call their cultural DNA.

    >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.
    Thank you. I really appreciate your feedback.

    >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 fascinated by the fact that my emphasis on representations should tie in with such diverse concepts.

    >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 ;-)
    Ok - I'll post, separately, the text of the section on Durkheim that I deleted from the book. It hasn't been revised for a while so I don't hold myself responsible for any apparent contradictions with the way my thoughts had developed by the time of the final version of the book! I'll delete all footnotes and formatting etc. - it's about 1800 words long so hope it doesn't cause a huge jam downloading for anyone.

    >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.
    This dog/vertebrate distinction isn't quite an example of token/type. The example would rather be a particular dog, Rex, as a token of the type "dog". Of course a dog is also a token of the type "vertebrate" but I just wanted to clarify that the relationship between type and token isn't between a group and a subgroup but between a group and one of its particular members.


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