Re: Lorenz on the "mneme"

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Mon 04 Apr 2005 - 03:48:24 GMT

  • Next message: John S. Wilkins: "Re: Lorenz on the "mneme""

    --- "John S. Wilkins" <> wrote:

    > Scott Chase wrote:
    > >I found this little aside by Lorenz most
    > interesting,
    > >given that, despite his dark National Socialism
    > >related past, he reached the prominence as an
    > >ethologist to get a Nobel Prize. Lorenz was talking
    > >about learning and memory when he wrote during his
    > >stint in a Russian POW camp (p. 163):
    > >
    > >[KL] "In an objective sense, a "mneme"- a memory of
    > >what has happened previously- is already present
    > >wherever the behavior of an organism is influenced
    > *by
    > >what it has just done*." [KL]
    > >
    > >I wonder how Lorenz had been introduced to the
    > concept
    > >of "mneme" (the "mneme" meme)?. I see no apparent
    > >reference to Semon nor is Semon's work in the
    > >bibliography.
    > >
    > >Here we see an ethologist using the term "mneme".
    > I'm
    > >not sure how often this word was used in
    > ethological
    > >circles. Dawkins himself emerged from the
    > ethological
    > >scene, so this could be an interesting thing to
    > >ponder. If its ethological use was confined to
    > >Lorenz's Russian Manuscript then it was lost until
    > >unearthed in 1990.
    > >
    > >
    > Dawkins' advisor was Niko Tinbergen, who was a very
    > good friend of Lorenz's:
    > And Semon's views were widely read and discussed in
    > the period before
    > the war, as you would know. His term "engramm" was
    > adopted pretty
    > widely. So I suspect you have uncovered a direct
    > link, a smoking gun, in
    > the conneciton from Semon to Dawkins.
    > [from 1927]
    Thanks Dr. Wilkins. I'm not sure I'd call it a smoking gun, but it's suggestive like John Laurent's article in 1999:

    I wasn't expecting to see "mneme" referred to in Lorenz's text. I find his Russian Manuscript a great read, especially the way he evolutionizes Kantian philosophy.

    You should look at it for his views on systematics, if you haven't already. He does make me cringe though. There are parts of the book that are questionable like when he starts talking about the effects of domestication.

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