Re: Durkheim redux

From: Kate Distin (
Date: Mon 11 Apr 2005 - 18:25:09 GMT

  • Next message: Kate Distin: "Re: Durkheim redux"

    Scott Chase wrote:
    > Yet what about the so-called "benign user illusion" or
    > the notion that "self" is but a memeplex? All this
    > metarepresentation you talk about could be reduced to
    > memetic activity and "we" would thus be taken out of
    > the picture, the pseudo-homunculi "we" are...
    > Don't get me wrong, I'm on your side, but I'm trying
    > to anticipate arguments from hardcore meme machinists.
    > But in doing so aren't I exercising some freedom of
    > thought beyond the constraints of whatever stuff is
    > floating in my head thanks to Blackmore and Dennett?
    > Are my memory fragments pulling my strings or am I the
    > executive in charge here?

    Obviously I think you're the executive in charge. It seems to me that meme machinists (as you so neatly label them) have lost sight of what memes are, and where they might have come from. Dennett in particular is fond of phrases like "the haven all memes depend on reaching is the human mind" [Consciousness Explained, p. 207, pbk]. Well, where does he think they hang out before they "reach" a human mind? I can't now locate it, frustratingly, but also recall another bit of Dennett where he talks (apparently seriously) about the experience of having an idea just pop into your head, in this context. Again - from where?

    If memes are essentially chunks of information, like genes, then as I've said elsewhere they cannot produce effects unless they are realized in an appropriate medium. This is demonstrated neatly, today, by the Human Genome Project, which did not produce a human being upon its completion
    - the genetic information being realized in the wrong medium.

    Sorry this is a bit rushed - Netscape's a bit temperamental at the moment and I lost the original, fuller version of this message earlier .
    . . will send this on before it disappears, too!


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