Re: LeDoux vs. Rose on Semon

From: Kate Distin (
Date: Sun 08 May 2005 - 17:38:49 GMT

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    Scott Chase wrote:

    > This is in the context of Rose saying how memory is
    > transformed in the process of retrieval and its a
    > dynamic process. If memory isn't static but dynamic
    > and continually remade, what implications does this
    > have for neuromemes? Can replicants survive the mnemic
    > transformative process, if they were actually a result
    > of replication instead of tranformation in the process
    > of being passed from noggin to noggin in the first
    > place? Thus there could be a tranformation between
    > mindbrains and also one within a mindbrain. The
    > obstacles for replicationists to overcome continue to
    > pile up.

    Memory is of course dynamic and fallible: this is one of the main reasons for errors creeping into cultural replication, but it's no challenge to the claim that replication exists in the first place. It tells us that there are fundamental flaws in the replicative mechanisms of the human brain - not that replication doesn't take place.

    If I read your message, memorize it, repeat it orally to a friend who takes it down as dictation, memorizes it [insert a few more friends in the chain here if you wish] and then from memory sends you a new message identical to your original, then in what sense has there been no "true" replication? Within your brain, my brain and hers, there have been complex and dynamic processes involved in the creation and retrieval of memories - but these can be seen as the mechanisms of replication, not as an alternative to it.

    Cultural information is preserved and copied via fallible and complicated brains. But however fallible and complicated they prove to be upon further neurological analysis, this doesn't tell us half so much about whether replication "really" happens as the study of what goes into and comes out of those brains: information.

    On the other hand, as I've said before, the ultimate test of a replicative memetic theory will be its explanatory value. I think the jury's still out on that one.


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