Applied Memetics, a personal view

From: Kenneth Van Oost (
Date: Fri 05 Aug 2005 - 19:34:09 GMT

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    Keith wrote, Robin wrote, Kate wrote,

    > Most memetics work has been on the "how" rather than the more
    > important "why" question.
    > It is my prediction that the EP model will replace the root models in the
    > social "sciences" much the way chemistry replaced alchemy. As a matter of
    > fact, the replacement process is well underway.

    > > But at least biological evolution is an accepted scientific theory
    > > stands firm on the available evidence - memetics is too new and untested
    > > to withstand the impact of too many non-explanations: the cumulative
    > > effect will be a feeling that memetics has no explanatory worth.
    > >I remain fairly hopeful that it does have explanatory worth, but I don't
    > >think we're there yet!

    > Memetics does not have explanatory power simply because the frame is too
    > small. You have to understand the meme's host to be able to say much
    > its life cycle. Trying to look at memes alone is like trying to study the
    > malaria parasite without considering its hosts and vectors.

    << It is my conviction that memetics/ memetic language/ the notion that memes exist, spread, propagate, live and die have potential to have explanatory power, though Keith, Robin and Kate think otherwise.

    Personally I use/ apply the theory in my daily work, at a practical level and in this regard I think it is rather helpful or at least harmless to use memetic elements in our daily social discourses. Memetics does have a surplus of vitality within; clear patterns are molded in; fundamental aspects of rationalism/ individualism/ identity/ behavior can be better explained keeping the Meme- meme eye view in mind. Physical conversation, gestures and the tendency to mate/ reproduce and pre- serve life [ morality] are maybe simple ideas, but more readily clarified into more understandable concepts than the ideas brought up in EP models. We have with memetics a frame of constructive value_ an ' objective ' method to study man.

    It is IMO a misconception in modern Western thought NOT to think that memes dominates/ organizes/ coordinates human life_ in this sense it is only a partial view of man that we see. Each aspect is divided and memetics can apparent provide evidence for the existence of a corresponding doctrine to the one of genetics. There is a second replicator in nature, why not then invest interest in attempting to increase the knowledge about it !? Saying that memetics has a too small a frame to have any power at all is trying to establish conformity of thought and action, IS conservative and totally out of the question ! That EP of any other field of the social sciences refuses to yield primacy to a new born partner I can understand, NOT that the new promising branch would have no time or space; no function, mea- ning and structure, purpose and quality, necessity and can 't bring on free- dom/ harmony/ honesty and truth !

    The same intellectual dualism reappears as the conflict of individual/ commu- nity; chemistry and alchemy; idealism and materialism_ the problem of ge- netics/ EP - memetics remains irresolvable within our logic of Western static thought. The vast demagogy of science is threatened by memetics with its many aspects to look inside man 's head. Memetics opens a new criterion to look at man 's moral standards/ ethics/ emotional life/ tradition/ history. The only criterion which can be accepted today as determining man 's identity is the extent to which it can be explained as part of the whole. Indeed it is just this notion which prevents for memetics to spread. Memetics is the study of man and his total of environment and at the heart of the situation stands the INDIVIDUAL.

    Memetics, like it is said should focus itself on the ' why' question, not so much on the ' how '; we should pay attention to what we can under- stand, more than just looking at the underlying processes. Memetics will be confronted with problems to proove itself and especially its predictive power will face terrible conflicts. It is rejected just because it implies a valid individualism and each new abnormality within and of the behavior increases the problem:- we should approach each human being as unique/ as an individual and unconvertable as one and only member of its own kind. The impossibility for then to judge_ a judgement that will be valid and trustworthy_ makes it very hard to ' predict ', because we loose grip to retain all relevant variables. Even we permit ourselves to be as accurent as possible we destroy the result if one single a(e)ffect sneeks in. It is just that memes are so vast damned personal that we find it difficult to get a total view on who is the individual !!

    The study of an individual is done within a vacuum_ it is often too expensive and unpractical and most of the time the results can 't offer guidance for the whole of the group. Is there a practical application for the study of the individual and thus memetics !? Yes, there is ! If the individual or representative case is useful, why not used it !? Using the individual_ if he IS representative, can lead to results_ more deductive than inductive OK, more especially than common. Groups are unstable and the notion of the zero- hypothesis [ there are no differencies between inter- groups] is non- existent. The alternative is the study of one single individual and the technique to do so is memetics !

    Memetics does make our task more easily, it ables us to do more obser- vations and make sure that something got a real e(a)ffect if we only set our minds blank for the existence of memes and what they can/ will do....

    Thanks for reading, Best regards,


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