Re: Evolution sans Phenotype (aka: RS revisited)

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Fri 16 Jun 2006 - 15:25:42 GMT

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    Thursday, June 15, 2006, 10:11:04 PM, Tim wrote:

    > p.p.s I suspect Robin may be able to rephrase much of my above
    > jibberish more clearly in terms of the transformations information
    > is subjected to when moving between representational systems (with
    > the caveat that internal dialogue within the mind itself should also
    > to be seen as its own unique RS) and that human culture is shaped by
    > the nature & interaction of these transformations.

    Thanks, Tim.

    At the highest level of generalisation it's all information processing
    -- notwithstanding the fact that minds are involved. For many years most of my online arguments -- and there were many -- were against the elimination of subjectivity from philosophy of mind. HOWEVER, I see memetics as essentially objective, if it is to be of any significance, and so, as a generalisation, it needs to ignore subjective aspects of behaviour and culture. (It might be the case, though, that it's only at the highest levels of generalisation that subjective aspects need to be entirely ignored. I must admit I'm unclear about how applied memetics will actually work.)

    Even transmission of information is information processing, where spacial aspects are relatively incidental, as I think they often but not always are in memetics.

    Any and every transformation of information can be viewed as an en- or decoding operation, where the difference between en- and de- is entirely relative, depending on your starting point, so we can use either term as convenient. Of course, some transformations are more USEFULLY viewed as en/decoding than are others. I believe that the transformations between brain-stored memes, memes-as-behaviour and memes-in-artifacts (whether formally symbolic or not -- it can be argued that any artifactual encoding is symbolic in some sense) are prime examples for the application of the en/decoding terminology. The key that decodes the brain-meme into the behavioural form is simply whatever elicits that behaviour. The key that re-encodes the behavioural form to the brain form in an observer is whatever stimulates that observer to pay attention and remember.

    BUT -- and I might be wrong here -- I believe that's probably about as much as we can say at this level of generalisation, and that as we descend to successively lower levels, with more and more detail, the less useful this information processing talk becomes. We shouldn't lose sight of this level altogether, because it's quite fundamental. In theory, MEME(me)->MEME(text)->MEME(you)* can certainly be considered as a classic information channel in communications theory, with the calculation of error rates, signal/noise ratios and so on, but I'm dubious about the utility of actually applying math here. I'd be fascinated by any argument -- or evidence? -- to the contrary, though.

    *Tim's nice arrows were ironically lost in the copy/paste transformation.

    Best regards,
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