Re: Durkheim redux

From: Kate Distin (
Date: Tue 19 Apr 2005 - 14:46:11 GMT

  • Next message: Price, Ilfryn: "RE: Durkheim redux"

    Vincent Campbell wrote:
    > Just dipping into the flow here and happened upon this comment about animal
    > art.
    > I saw a book once- in an otherwise reputable bookshop- that was entirely
    > about cat art, in other words art by cats...
    > Can't remember the title though.
    > Also saw a piece on the local TV news the other day about some kind of
    > primate (a monkey, not an ape) that appeared to like to draw on paper- film
    > showed it making marks on the paper whilst others of it's group just tried
    > to eat the paper.
    > A few years ago, I think I recall seeing a programme about those bonobos
    > they taught to sign, and some of them painted too- although i believe their
    > painting was interpreted of being of the movement of objects, rather than
    > objects themselves (e.g. lots of zig zags for a ball bouncing) all a bit
    > dubious perhaps...
    > Do any animals categorically make aesthetic representations, aside from
    > physical performances, like humans do? Bower birds perhaps?
    > Is this a root to memes- the capacity to abstract an idea into a
    > representational form in another medium (cave art, stone tool, piece of
    > modern art, whatever...)?
    > Off the topic a bit I'm sure.
    > Vincent

    I don't think it's off the topic: I'm pretty sure it is a root to memes.
      As you say, the capacity to represent, to carry the idea from one context to another, is crucial. I believe that humans' (almost certainly unique) ability to metarepresent - or in other words to carry the idea from one representational system to another; to reflect on
    *how* it is represented - is the key to memes themselves. But there seem to be degrees/types of representation, with some creatures capable of much simpler types than others, and I'm sure there's a spectrum here.


    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Tue 19 Apr 2005 - 16:03:39 GMT