Juan Delius's version of neuromemetics

From: Scott Chase (osteopilus@yahoo.com)
Date: Sun 01 May 2005 - 19:54:40 GMT

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    This is rather preliminary, but after reading in _The Electric Meme_ how Aunger sees Juan Delius as a predecessor to his view of neuromemetics, I thought I'd give Delius a serious read. I find much more clarity of thought in Delius's papers that I've read. His view on neural states is that the neural constellations that are encoded memes are
    *functionally* equivalent across individuals. Thus they are not the same (person to person) at the level of neural changes. Interestingly Lashley refers to a functional equivalence of parts in his "Cerebral Organization in Vision" paper in regard to his notion of reduplication of the engram through the cortex. Delius refers to a mnemic redundancy due to internal replication, but fails to mention Lashley's concept of reduplication. He snubs Lashley and Hebb, since as Aunger points out he makes use of the Hebbian synapse, yet I find no mention of Hebb in Delius's papers either. Delius refers to "mnemobiology", but fails to mention Semon. He even says how the analogies between biological and cultural evolution have been looked at, but then how it has only been seriously considered in the couple decades previous to his 1989 paper, thus snubbing Julian Huxley's noogenetics, which I have demonstated in previous posts anticipated memetics very closely. These are only nitpicks that reflect my pet peeves with memeticists, especially a "prominent neuroethologist" like Delius. His discussion of a conversation between Tinbergen and Lorenz invoked
    "memory traces" and I recently pointed to how Lorenz invoked the "mneme" itself in his Russian MS. Ugghh. No respect (see Rodney Dangerfield).

    I'm pretty sure William Calvin is an exception to the rule in that he, in his _The Cerebral Code_ makes some reference to both Hebb and Lashley. More on this sometime...

    Funny thing about Aunger's reference to Delius in his endnote that acknowledges Delius as predecessor and departs from Calvin, is that he talks about how Delius addresses ecological relationships. Recall how I found flaws in his book with regard to how Aunger addressed ecological relations? Aunger says of Delius: "He emphasizes the parasitic nature of memetic replication and notes that memes can be beneficial symbionts or detrimental parasites."

    Tsk, tsk. The careful reader would note that Delius looks at the symbiotic relations of memes to hosts and includes not *only* mutualism and parasitism, as implied in Aunger's simplistic dichotomy, but an
    *excellent* rendition of commensalism too. If you recall my little tangent about brains being like gopher tortoise burrows and neuromemetic indigo snakes and gopher frogs could live in there, you must appreciate how absolutely impressed I am with Delius for his very masterful depiction of these ecological relationships (mutualism, parasitism AND commensalism) and how superior his treatment was to that of Aunger's confusion.


    Juan Delius. 1989. Of mind memes and brain bugs, a natural history of culture. found in _The Nature of Culture_ edited by Walter Koch. Bochum: Studienverl. Brockmeyer

    Juan Delius. 1991. The nature of culture. found in
    _The Tinbergen Legacy_. edited by Dawkins, Halliday, and Dawkins. Chapman and Hall: New York

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