From: Scott Chase (email@example.com)
Date: Fri 01 Apr 2005 - 23:41:22 GMT
--- Kate Distin <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> This didn't get through last time - trying again.
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: Durkheim
> Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2005 11:36:51 +0000
> From: Kate Distin <email@example.com>
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Section on Durkheim as promised.
> Durkheim: social facts as memes?
(snip Kate's thoughts on Durkheim for brevity)
Kate, thanks for posting this section on Durkheim. I'm glad to see the responses too. I'll need to digest it and try to brush on on Durkheim himself a little.
I've been reading Boyd and Richerson's _Not by Genes Alone_ (2005. University of Chicago Press, Chicago) and they take a middle ground between sociology and ev psych that isn't based upon memetics. They prefer the term "cultural variant" to "meme". They're not in the camp of the universal Darwinists or of Sperber. I do like this particular aside (Boyd and Richerson, p. 82): "For any phenotypic performance there is a potentially infinite number of rules that could generate that performance." That pretty much punctures the simplistic memes in the noggin approach (though Boyd and Richerson place cultural variants in the head too a certain degree). Not too long ago I asked Keith to picture a scene where Chris Taylor (another list participant) and I were at a table drinking iced tea from mason jars (my apologies to Chris for putting him in this scene). Our overt behavior would appear to be the same, but what's going on inside could diverge quite a bit.
Several pages back (page 74) Boyd and Richerson say:
"[Culture] has no analog of recessive or silent genes that do not influence phenotype...but are transmitted anyway." I think this intersects with our previous discussion about your book where I wasn't too keen on the term "recessive" for memes. Yet OTOH, I wonder how this disanalogy between cultural variants and genes affects the possibility of neutral memetic alleles. Boyd and Richerson do address the possibility of cultural drift (eg- Table 3.1 on page 69) in small populations which is a plus IMO.
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