Re: Kate's book/ "recessive memes"

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sat 26 Mar 2005 - 19:09:01 GMT

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    At 08:20 AM 26/03/05 -0800, Bill wrote:
    >Dear Kate,
    >>It seems to me that when Blackmore and other writers fail to
    >>distinguish between memes and beliefs/other attitudes towards memes,
    >>they are begging the question in favour of their view that there's no
    >>distinction between memes and the mind. Whereas if memes are
    >>essentially information then of course they are things that minds
    >>deal with, not all that there is to a mind.
    >Interesting point. :-)
    >I remember reading an article by Blackmore where she made her claim that
    >the mind is made of memes and thinking, "Where the hell did that come
    >from?" That claim is on one extreme of the nature-nuture debate, and
    >rather curious for a theory based upon an analogy with genes!

    I think it is worth considering Marvin Minsky's _Society of Mind_ where he makes the case for mind being a collection of a huge number of "agents," each one too simple to be considered intelligent.

    Minsky's agents are formed, shaped, programmed, whatever out of experience. Experience includes learning cultural elements, memes. So in his view, memes are the information used to program mental agents. The totality of organic structure (analogous to hardware and an operating system) and the mental agents programmed by non memetic experience and memes is what we call mind.

    I can make sense of Blackmore's claim in this light. For certain a mind without the agents programmed by memes wouldn't be very interesting.

    Keith Henson

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