Re: RS

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Tue 16 May 2006 - 13:08:55 GMT

  • Next message: Chris Lofting: "RE: RS"

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006, 10:13:35 AM, Kate wrote:


    So long as the letters exist on a page or screen, and there are people who can understand them, why doesn't it make sense to say that these letters represent information?  Of course they lose that meaning when there are no human minds to interact with them, but that doesn't mean that they are 'meaningless' in the sense that an undiscovered boulder is meaningless.

    What's the difference between letters on a page where there are no minds whatsoever, and an undiscovered boulder?


    I think that it is very easy to imitate a tune, without any conceptual apparatus.  Just as it is easy for children to imitate our hand movements or facial gestures.  But I'd agree that there are different levels of imitation.  At one level we just imitate the details, without any proper understanding of what's going on, and at another level we imitate the functional structure of the behaviour, and may even vary the intermediate details.  And, as you say, it's the addition of this context, this understanding (metarepresenting what's going on: seeing it *as* something that has a context) which lifts things to the memetic level.

    Just imitating the details, without any proper understanding, will often get the job done, and isn't that what matters? A proto-human sees another doing something and later does something very similar, with the same result. It was learned not by individual trial-and-error, but by imitation. A way of making pots, for instance. Why shouldn't that count as a meme?


    Best regards,


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