From: Ben Dawson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri 02 Dec 2005 - 22:09:45 GMT
On Tue, 29 Nov 2005 12:52:25 -0800, you wrote:
>> I'm an undergraduate University student in Derby, England. As part of
>> my coursework for the Philosophy of AI module I am studying, I am
>> giving a presentation on memetics, which is an area of great interest
>> to me.
>> Does anyone have any ideas? Or any advice about the talk in general?
Ted - thanks for the reply.
>You might want to bring up the concept of agency. In pursuing replication,
>memes become causative agents within human culture. The result is that
>human agency is displaced by memetic agency. Instead of rationally
>determining what we believe, we let memes do our thinking for us. An
>obvious example is the rise of Nazism in Germany following World War I. The
>Nazi meme successfully replicated because it enabled Germans, including
>Hitler, to expel their shame and anxiety by shifting the blame for defeat
>onto Jews, Roma, etc. Just as natural environments select for some species
>over others, the psychological environment of post-Versailles Germany
>selected for the Nazi meme. Wherever human agency is displaced, for
>whatever reason, memes must pick up the slack.
I'm curious about the last part of your reply: "Wherever human agency
is displaced, for whatever reason, memes must pick up the slack."
What exactly is human agency? If we look at memes as being the causes
of our behaviour in this way, then where does human agency come in? Is
not all human behaviour down to meme agents? To use your example, you
put Nazism down to a Nazi meme, but surely people who aren't Nazis
would have the meme for "not being a Nazi", or a meme for being
something else that conflicts with the Nazi meme?
I'm not trying to suggest that this is in fact the case, because I
don't know. I'm just interested as to what your viewpoint is. It would
seem as though this viewpoint is similar to Dennett's thinking on the
idea - ie that we *are* our memes and that free will is illusory.
I don't feel comfortable with looking at Nazism as a meme, partly for
the reason that Scott highlighted, in that not all Nazis shared
exactly the same viewpoint. For example, some of them may have been
more motivated by religious hatred than racial hatred. If we must look
at Nazism in terms of memes, we have to break it down and look at the
memes for individual beliefs that constituted the whole Nazi regime.
In any case, it's probably best to leave it out of the presentation.
The group I'm due to deliver it to can smell uncertainty a mile away
and if I bring up this example, I've practically guaranteed myself a
rough ride in the question and answer section!
>This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
>Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
>For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
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