Re: Durkheim redux

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Thu 14 Apr 2005 - 00:14:09 GMT

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "Re: Durkheim redux"

    --- Chris Taylor <> wrote:

    > cf. the extensive recent stuff on artefacts and
    > ~meme (which means not
    > the trivial dinner party 'cultural virion'
    > conception) [re]generation,
    > as I mentioned in parentheses previously. It's not
    > all about backwards
    > baseball caps y'know.
    How's 'bout the heavy criticisms coming from people like Dan Sperber and Maurice Bloch that appear in
    _Darwinizing Culture_? I think what Sperber says about transformation (versus replication) and what Bloch says about re-creation are very important and can't be swept casually under the rug.

    What Bill was hinting at with the intuitive physics of children might be of importance too. I have a vague recollection of a lecture from a learning theories class where the professor talked about the path a kid would expect and object dropped from a flying plane to take versus the actual path it takes. What Bill said about kids running by a dropping stuff in a box jogged that memory from its cobweb over there next to the computer simulated Skinner box "experiments" I did in that class. Computer similated rats don't have the quirks one wonders about after reading the classic Breland and Breland (1961) "The Misbehavior of Organisms":

    Notice the citations of Hebb, Lorenz and Tinbergen. I thought of this one several times recently when reading memetics books, especially when reading Aunger's _The Electric Meme_ where he talks about the eclipse of behaviorism.

    Then he starts taking about evolutionary psychology in a way that reminds me of what Popper said in
    _Conjectures and Refutations_ about Plato's theory of anamnesis. If we are, as Aunger's characterization of EP on page 40 of the hardback would lead us to believe, truly born with *content* and *knowledge* (as opposed to modules based on *form* or *structure*) is evoked culture merely "remembering" what happened in the EEA. As an aside, based upon what Popper also said about the "Golden Age" in _Open Society and its Enemies_, I wonder if the EEA was our evolutionary Eden and the Fall is analogous to our developing maladaptive behaviors like using birth control. I'm also recalling Lorenz's discussions of "domestication" resulting from civilization's deleterious effect wrt our innate patterns. Man that guy Aunger really makes me think.

    BTW after reviewing what Blackmore says about 'copy the product' versus 'copy the instructions' I think this might be a good conceptual tool to apply in looking at the variations of the Ring theme. Not sure
    _The Ring 2_ was such a great vehicle/implementation/product when related to the replicators/representations/instructions one finds in the Suzuki originals. I'll have to test this hypothesis by reading _Spiral_.

    Another movie comparison I'd love to do would be _The Village_ with Skinner's book _Walden Two_. In the movie they set up a utopia where they keep the kids and thus subsequent generations in line by the threat of the monsters in red that live in the woods. That's not too unlike what they do to the sheep in _Walden Two_. Instead of an electric fence, they have string and the tradition of the sheep keeps them, usually, from leaving the confines of the enclosure, but I think there was a mishap with loose sheep in the book. The innocuous string takes the place of an electric fence.

    There's no analogy between the inhabitants of the village in the movie and the compound where Skinner's
    (I mean "Frazier"'s) humans live, since the former are under threat of punishment if they encroach on the woods and get the red cloaked monsters irate. The inhabitants of Walden Two are under a positive reinforcement regime instead. Yet the main character of Walden Two, Burris, is a psychologist and has a name similar to BF Skinner's, so I wonder if Skinner identified himself with Burris or Frazier...

    Enough digression for ya?

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