Re: Darwinizing Culture: The Status of Memetics as a Science

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Wed Apr 25 2001 - 20:49:15 BST

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    Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 20:49:15 +0100
    Subject: Re: Darwinizing Culture: The Status of Memetics as a Science
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    In-Reply-To: <>; from on Sat, Apr 21, 2001 at 06:55:06PM -0400
    From: Robin Faichney <>
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    On Sat, Apr 21, 2001 at 06:55:06PM -0400, Scott Chase wrote:
    > >On Thu, Apr 19, 2001 at 02:06:55PM +0100, Vincent Campbell wrote:
    > > > <Religion is typically about following after entities which possibly
    > > > don't
    > > > > even exist. Memetics could be in the same ballpark, but I wonder if
    > >this
    > > > > means memetics too is dangerous and insiduous.>
    > > > >
    > > > Indeed, indeed. This is I think what some ignore, others embrace,
    > > > and some of us worry about constantly.
    > >
    > >I think that in some cases at least, an entity must be considered to
    > >exist, for some purposes, and not to do so, for others.
    > >
    > Is memetics a way of seeing which may/may not apply to the real world?

    I don't see how it could be used that way.

    > >Don't those who feel strongly against that proposition need to find very
    > >clear definitions of "entity" and "existence"?
    > >
    > Can it be said that these entities called memes actually exist in the real
    > world beyond the confines of this list and the thinking caps of those
    > posting here?

    It (obviously) depends on how "meme" is defined. I have a definition
    by which it can be said that memes are objective entities. But that
    only works if you consider patterns can be such. (I follow Dennett in
    "believing in" real patterns.)

    > Is memetics a good idea (something useful with application and
    > correspondence to reality) or a good meme (something good at propagating
    > itself; a mind virus about infectious ideas) or perhaps both (or neither)?

    I don't think "neither" is a meaningful option there (and I'm sure you
    don't either). It's important to acknowledge there's absolutely no
    conflict between "good idea" and "good meme" -- all can say is that
    for a meme to be one does not necessarily imply it's also the other.
    I think memetics is a "good idea" in some contexts, for some purposes,
    and not others. Whether it's a good meme remains to be seen.

    Robin Faichney
    Get your Meta-Information from
    (CAUTION: contains philosophy, may cause heads to spin)

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