Re: "Abstract" Memes?

From: Kate Distin (
Date: Mon 28 Nov 2005 - 10:10:54 GMT

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    Davi Johnson wrote:
    > Most examples of memes seem to be from popular culture. Are
    > relatively enduring concepts/terms/ideologies
    > like "equality" or "liberty" also memetic, and if so, in
    > what sense might they function as memes?
    > Thanks for any insight,
    > dj

    I would say that they are memetic, in that they are representations of particular portions of information. They have meaning. They can have effects on the people who accept the importance of these concepts, depending on the context (environmental, the person's existing memes, etc.). Like any other concept they evolve over time, picking up some connotations and losing others.

    You might be interested to read Henry Plotkin's paper in Robert Aunger
    (ed.) "Darwinizing Culture" (OUP, 2000). There he makes the distinction between memes that are short-lived and situation-specific, like the lyrics to a currently-popular song; and memes that are higher order, with greater longevity and wider scope - overarching concepts like
    "song", to draw the contrast with the previous example.


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