From: Kate Distin (email@example.com)
Date: Sun 10 Apr 2005 - 11:36:15 GMT
Scott Chase wrote:
> Regardless of whether your notions of what to expect
> derive from innate schemes or memes, it's gonna take
> some personal gumption and elbow grease to get
> yourself over the hump. You gotta know how to use what
> you got. You may have gotten it from imitating others
> or from making personal observations, but without
> initiative it ain't goona amount to a hill of beans.
Right - you need to be able to reflect on it and think about your
thoughts - or in other words to meta-represent your mental
representations. I don't mean to be too evangelical about this (ok,
maybe I do: book sales are at a very early stage after all!) but I do
enjoy the fact that this aspect of memetics ties in so well with what
I've learned with my other hat on, as a former counsellor to gifted
children and their families.
What I mean is this. I've suggested that memes are a certain type of
representation. In particular, humans are distinguished by our ability
to meta-represent, or in other words to represent our representations:
to think about and reflect on how they are represented, and to change
the representational system if necessary. So we can talk about the fact
that numbers can be represented via roman numeral, arabic
place-convention, spoken languages, etc. and ask questions about which
system is the most useful for a given purpose. When we do this we are
talking about (representing) not only the information contained in those
systems, but also the systems themselves. Meta-representing.
If this is the case - that meta-representation is one of human beings'
unique characteristics - then we should be able to see evidence for
variation in this tendency, and I believe that in the minds of gifted
individuals this is exactly what we can observe: a greater tendency,
ability, whatever you want to call it, to meta-represent. Gifted
children and adults are noted for their ability to reflect on
information presented to them, to ask questions about it, to make
connections that others have not seen. (Indeed they are sometimes
tormented by an inability *not* to do this.)
This also ties in with Chris's point about the source of novelty, which
I'd agree (contra Blackmore, Dennett, etc.) lies in the human mind.
Thought experiments, the recombination of ideas, are all enhanced by an
ability to reflect on the way in which information is represented, as
well as on the information itself. Innovation is almost bound to be
nourished by this tendency.
Just climbing down from my hobby-horse now . . .
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Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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