Re: Information

Date: Thu May 03 2001 - 04:56:15 BST

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    On 3 May 2001, at 13:20, wilkins wrote:

    > wrote:
    > >
    > > On 2 May 2001, at 21:13, wrote:
    > >
    > > > On 3 May 2001, at 11:11, wilkins wrote:
    > > >
    > ....
    > > > > 4. the semiotic or intentional account of the Peircians,
    > > > > Meinongians and other representationalists.
    > > > >
    > > > > So far as memetics is concerned, only the first three are
    > > > > relevant (it matters not a whit is the information being
    > > > > transmitted is true, coherent or in any way of significance to
    > > > > any audience, so long as it spreads through a population).
    > > > >
    > > > > If something is a measurement of some state distinct from the
    > > > > observer, then that information (ie, the error implicit in the
    > > > > measurement) is a physical mapping of what's in the head to
    > > > > what's in the world. However, it fails to be memetic information
    > > > > until it is transmitted, and then senses 2 and 3 come into play,
    > > > > so we can ignore the two extremes: "objective" information in
    > > > > the sense of accuracy of measurement, and "subjective"
    > > > > information in terms of what something means within the head of
    > > > > a semantically or semiotically capable system (ie, some person)
    > > > > and concentrate instead on the dynamics of information
    > > > > transmission and the evolution of the signals so transmitted.
    > > >
    > > I forgot to add that the way we have supposed that we tell that two
    > > memes are different is that they inspire different behavors and/or
    > > possess different meanings, but behavior alone might not be
    > > sufficient to distinguish between memes. Imagine two cults; one
    > > believes that if you dance you will assure yourself of heaven, and
    > > the other believes that if you dance you will assure your fellow
    > > beings of heaven. The actions of both will be indistinguishable
    > > until the speak about what motivates their dancing, selfishness or
    > > altruism, a difference between the meanings motivating the behavior,
    > > not the behavior itself.
    > > > >
    > > > Actually, #4 is VERY important, for it is significance, or
    > > > meaning, that comprises a meme; that is what is propagated.
    > > > Behaviors and discourse, the engines of imitation, MEAN something
    > > > to those doing or saying them. A meme is the selfsame meme
    > > > regardless of whether it is performed, spoken or written; it is
    > > > not the code or carrier which matter (although one kind or another
    > > > must obtain, which is of no consequence), but the content; that
    > > > is, memetic identity is a matter of semantics and pragmatics, not
    > > > syntactics.
    > This is what I call the Intentional Fallacy (in reverse homage to
    > Dennett). What matters is not whether or not something is significant
    > or meaningful, only how it is transmitted relatively to other
    > messages. In short, what counts is the "fitness" of a meme/message.
    > This is not to say that meaning is not intrinsically interesting, or
    > that it is non-existent - it clearly isn't. But what is the *memetic*
    > take on a message? In short, just its relative frequency in a
    > population and the dynamics of how it is being spread.
    Meaning may not matter if all one is concerned with are
    propagation rates, but if two different memes are propagating at the
    same rate (say the two dances), one must refer to the significance
    of the behavior to distinguish between them, or to even realize that
    there are two memes present, rather than one with a propagation
    rate twice as high. We cannot fall into the behaviorist trap of
    dismissing the unobserved as nonexistent (even though we cannot
    attribute a priori properties to it). One must also look to the
    reasons some memes propagate better than other, and this has to
    do with memetic hooks (such as in the dancing examples -
    together, they form what motivates the proselytization meme) and
    memetic filters. Both hooks and filters are semantically deployed
    mechanisms; the first provides meaningful reasons to propagate a
    meme, and the second provides meaning-based exclusions to
    memetic reception, usually those meanings that would conflict with
    an already present meme, that imports the filter along with it
    because its association with such a self-protective measure
    increases its chances of survival and replication. In fact, neither
    the proselytization meme nor the memetic filter can have an
    existence separate from another meaningful meme to which it must
    attach itself to derive proselytizable or exclusionary content.
    Without a content to fill them, pure memetic forms are empty and
    thus indistinguishable. In fact, there would be no reason for any
    meme to propagate faster than another (or, in fact, at all) in the
    absence of some communicable significance; the significance, in
    fact, is what constitutes the identity of the meme, distingushes it
    from other memes in the cognitive environment, and dictates the
    range of possible niches open to it there.
    I think that your difficulty spring from too literal an application of
    darwinian theory to sociocultural phenomena; whereas in the
    natural environment, natural selection takes place, in the cognitive
    environment, that selection is, more often than not, intentional, and
    whereas in the natural environment, mutations are random, in the
    cognitive environment, they are as a result of the interaction of the
    provisionally received (being considered) meme with the other
    semantically relevant memes in the cognitive gestalt; mutations
    that occur are as a result of mutual adaptation (accommodation to
    plus assimilation of) between the novel meme and those
    rsematically relevant memes already present.
    > I would ask, apropos of the dancing example (nice counterexample, BTW)
    > - how can *you* the memeticist distinguish between the two behaviours
    > if there is no (linguistic or other behavioural) difference
    > discernable? So far as you the memeticist are concerned, there's just
    > the dancing behaviour. And if it does have this semantic difference,
    > won't it exhibit that in other behaviours? What we examine from the
    > perspective of memetics (or as I call it, cultural Darwinism, for
    > reasons that aren't relevant here), are the ways in which different
    > cultural items of some kind are differentially spread, and so the
    > overall population/cultural structure evolves.
    > The *least* important thing about even the most significant meme or
    > idea is what it actually means, from a cultural Darwinian perspective.
    > Meaning is not sitting there nicely tagged on each actor's ID badge to
    > be inspected. All you have are observables. -- John Wilkins, Head,
    > Communication Services, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical
    > Research, Melbourne, Australia Homo homini aut deus aut lupus -
    > Erasmus of Rotterdam
    > <>
    > ===============================================================
    > 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)
    > see:

    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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