Re: RS

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Wed 19 Apr 2006 - 09:31:26 GMT

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    Tuesday, April 18, 2006, 9:17:06 PM, Dace wrote:

    > Kate,

    >> > Robin Faichney wrote:
    >> >
    >> > I gave up arguing about this years ago, but maybe I should take it up
    >> > again. Memes are items of INFORMATION! Genes are extremely unusual in
    >> > being items of info that are stored only on one medium: DNA.
    >> > Otherwise, info can be and is stored and encoded in diverse formats.
    >> > It might be on DVD or video tape or in an encrypted zip file on your
    >> > hard drive, but it's the SAME film. Likewise, memes are encoded in
    >> > behavioural patterns, neural patterns, books and computers, etc, etc.
    >> > It's not either/or but both/and. Is there anyone at all out there,
    >> > besides Tim Rhodes and (maybe) Jesse who can see the sense of this?
    >> This informational view of memes/genes seems to me foundational to
    >> memetics. Hence my banging on about representational systems - memes
    >> can be reprsented in a variety of representational systems (natural
    >> languages, mathematical notation, binary coding, etc.) as well as across
    >> a variety of media. Of course you can have the same RS across different
    >> media (spoken English language on tape/CD/vinyl, written English on the
    >> screen, page, slate) as well as different RSs realized in the same
    >> medium (mathematical notation, written Punjabi language, engineering
    >> drawings all in pencil-on-paper). But the point as you say is that the
    >> same information can be represented in different ways.

    > Allow me to deconstruct.

    > What's you're actually saying here is that memes don't exist. Like flying
    > elephants, memes have no existence apart from our imagination of them. This
    > conclusion follows inexorably from your placement of memes in a material
    > setting. Do English words really exist on a page, or is it just bits of ink
    > arranged in a particular order? Are there words on tape, or is it just a
    > particular arrangement of magnetic particles? Sure, words exist in your
    > mind when you read a page or listen to a tape but only insofar as you
    > interpret the bits of ink or the playing of magnetic particles as such. The
    > words exist in your interpretation, not in the matter itself. Even in brain
    > matter we find no words but only neurons and synapses. If we're going to be
    > true to our materialistic conception of existence, then we must concede that
    > words don't really exist except in our interpretation of material objects.
    > That is, they exist in the mind. The same is true of memes. To place memes
    > in brains, books, DVDs, etc., is to say that it's convenient for us to think
    > this way, but of course in reality there are no memes, only atoms and
    > molecules.

    You need to understand information. With that, all of this is very simple. Just as a coded message only has meaning for people who can decode it, so memes are ENCODED in the "mere matter" of books, brains, etc.

    > Yet memes are as real as the minds that propagate them. Though flying
    > elephants don't exist, the thought of flying elephants is very much real.
    > It's only the content of imagination that's unreal, not imagination itself.
    > The trouble is that we can't seem to grasp how a thing could be real when it
    > can't be narrowed down to a particular place that contains a particular
    > clump of matter. We feel compelled to ask, where is the meme? We need a
    > location. We need a place to put it, and in fact this tendency follows from
    > the nature of material existence. For a thing to exist, it must exist in a
    > place. But memes are functions of mind and self. Thus memes exist, not in
    > this place or that place, but in *themselves.* With self-existence we have
    > an "inner place," though as St. Augustine noted, "it is wrong to speak of it
    > as a place." Self-existence is its own place. This is the meaning of inner
    > as opposed to outer, mind as opposed to brain, time as opposed to space.
    > Mind *is* brain but from its own point of view instead of the external point
    > of view.

    Actually, I agree with that last bit. But a proper understanding of information can illuminate the relationship of "inner" to "outer", and thus help those who tend to neglect or even deny the "inner", to come to terms with it. And the great thing about information is that one item of it can exist in many places at one time, thus transcending the location limitation.

    > When we reduce mind to brain, we step outside of ourselves, denying our own
    > existence, as if we were figments of our own imagination.


    > As incoherent as
    > this belief system is, we cannot escape it so long as we remain wedded to
    > the localization meme, which originated in the 17th century with the work of
    > Descartes and Robert Hooke. That we deny our own reality and imagine we've
    > found representations where there are only atoms and molecules is a
    > testament to the hypnotic power of memes.

    Mmm, sort of. You really need to investigate information.

    Best regards,
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    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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