Re: A review of "The Selfish Meme"

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Wed 01 Jun 2005 - 01:09:49 GMT

  • Next message: John Wilkins: "Re: A review of "The Selfish Meme""

    --- Kate Distin <> wrote:

    > Kenneth Van Oost wrote:
    > >
    > >
    > > Welcome back !
    > >
    > > Ray, you can also say that you have literally '
    > objectified ', although
    > > a stick is an object _ we forget so easily that
    > the name we gave to that
    > > wooden object is an agreed upon sign for a whole
    > set of complex
    > > meanings/ experiences/ expectations/ etc.
    > >
    > > The mental representation, what is a foggy
    > element, is an ' objectified
    > > picture ' of what the stick is all about, can
    > mean, represent, what kind
    > > of experience we can drag out of it. Even the
    > colours of it are in
    > > principle objectified elements_ the stick must be
    > brown or black
    > > or anyway show / represent the strenght/
    > intelligence/ competence of
    > > the holder. If it were pink and flossy we would
    > consider it as being
    > > a childsplay, or of plastic, not real, not
    > competitive.
    > >
    > > Memes, than, can we say that they are '
    > objectivations ' of what they
    > > stand for !? Highly speculative, I know, but if
    > Kate is right, a repre-
    > > sentation of a stick in our mind is just an
    > illusive proces, an objecti-
    > > vation would give it ' substance ', we should
    > could ' feel ' the stick,
    > > have a ' hold '...
    > > Smail on pg 84, ' Like some critics of our modern
    > society already
    > > have noted, the therminology of the objectivity
    > forces us to see our-
    > > selves as butts or owners of objectified forces [
    > memes !?] which
    > > lead a life on their own within oursleves '.
    > > The concept of Speech Acts ( Austin) springs to
    > mind, even Smiths
    > > Performance scheme looks around the corner.
    > >
    > > Representation or objectivation all boils down to
    > words, VERBS,
    > > and their over time changed conception, if you can
    > 't do something
    > > equals nowadays of you having a problem; wanting
    > something becomes
    > > having a need; working the stick is having
    > strenght, being the man, show
    > > competence.
    > > What is ever said in our daily social intercourse
    > is never the truth, but
    > > an objectified ( represented ?) charateristic of
    > something ' real '.
    > > Memes propagate thus then by how hard/ how fidel
    > they can objectify
    > > of what they stand for.
    > >
    > > Regards,
    > >
    > > Kenneth
    > >
    > >
    > Kenneth - I'm struggling to get hold of the
    > distinction you're making
    > between objectification and representation. Could
    > you say a bit more
    > about it?
    Not sure if he's making a major distinction between the two or bringing them together somehow. What he's calling "objectifying" is a sort of convention or nominalism where something "out there" is parsed from reality and given a name. If this convention is a meme passed between people it could be a shared illusion. Kenneth has posted some thoughts on solipsism in the past, so that could be where he's going with this. When we have a shared recognition (or representation?) of an "object" in the outside world and this is given a name such as "stick" we have a categorization problem in what a stick actually is. Stuff that we refer to as sticks can vary from a piece of branch that fell off a tree (possessing the typical brown, grey or blackish color we associate with bark) to a plastic toy that some company molded from a design with pigments that we might not normally associate with sticks we find lying around in our yard. From experience we might have a concept of stick built up in our noggins, but some kid's toy could come along and challenge that conception. In reality, a "stick" is nothing but a bunch of plant materials lumped together into a human concept, because these arrangements of plannt material all share a certain set of qualities. A wooden "stick" found lying in the yard or a plastic "stick" bought at a toy store will reduce to their respective molecular arrangements, at which point the category breaks down. Yet we continue, by convention, to refer to both as sticks. Maybe this shared illusory or nominalistic aspect of our representations is what Kenneth is getting at.

    A wooden baseball bat (do I need to explain this concept to the Brits on the list ;-)) and an aluminum
    (did I spell that right?) softball bat are both superficially similar in appearance, but at some pint they diverge. Material composition is different for both. Usage varies a little, given the diverge of the two sports. But the overall shape is quite similar and we can call each a bat. But we could call a plastic kids toy a bat too even if it is something measuring less than an inch attached to the hand of a minuature baseball action figure. We share representations of the concept bat n our noggins that, given our cultural background, would result in our referring to all these things as bats, regardless of size and composition. But is this concept somewhat illusory or at least poblmatic in that is emcompasses so much variation?

    Plus the word "bat" itself can be punned from its usage in baseball to its usage in mammalogy. Then we have a concept that can range from Dracula's favorite way of getting around (with all its Gothic representations) to a cute little pipistrelle. When we verge into categorization of living things, we are in Dr. John Wilkins's neck of the woods (species concepts). Yet there are toy bats that kids could dangle from the ceiling at Halloween, so we're still straddling between the natural and contrived (like with wooden and plastic sticks). In the naturalistic arena, for species concepts, there are some issues of nominalism too, like is it something that really exists as we think it is or are we just defining it with our label and lending it a degree of artificiality with our conceptualization of it and the way we represent it in our noggins? Maybe our label affixed to the species is contrived in a similar manner as the rubbery child's toy. That ought to get John foaming at the mouth if he's reading this :-)

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