RE: Logic

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Mon Jul 23 2001 - 15:21:49 BST

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Logic
    Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2001 15:21:49 +0100
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    >> > "Logic" in my view isn't a meme, as it's a way of thinking.

    >> Well, Vincent as you might know, one of the shocking but
    >> strictly honest and rational implications of memetics
    >> is that thinking itself is largely governed by memes. A way of
    >> thinking is equivalent to an adopted memeplex at work.

    >>I reckon that the idea that things in the world can have
    >>which follow predictable rules (more or less the basis of logical
    >>thought) is a meme, as is the 'grand design' religious
    alternative, and
    >>other superstitions. Do you explain by looking for causes and
    >>(and even when you can't find them, still assume the fault is with
    >>observer, not the rationale), or do you throw your hands up like
    most of
    >>our ancestors and treat the world as inexplicable to mortals?

            Not surprisingly I can't agree with either of you here. I think
    you're both confusing the language we use to denote processes, and the
    processes themselves.

            The term "logic" may or may may not be a meme, but the process it
    refers to is no more a meme than the brain functions that control breathing.

            Logic can occur spontaneously in a human being, it can't only occur
    through cultural transmission, which must occur for something to be a meme.
    That logic can be a useful strategy may have memetic potential, but being
    logical isn't easy to imitate any more than running like Maurice Green isn't
    easy to imitate. It takes time, effort and training, one might even suggest
    it's impossible to transmit to others (I certainly find that problem when
    trying to teach students :-)).

            Illogical thinking, however, is easy to transmit because it doesn't
    require any cognitive effort, only the throwing up of hands as Chris says,
    and if someone comes up with an easy a superficially easy answer to a
    difficult question (e.g. 'Why are we here?' 'Because god made us') then many
    people would rather buy into that than bother to work out a more reasonable

            I think the list has kind of covered questions of ways of thinking
    as memes before, not that I'm implying we sholdn't do so again. I just
    don't want to repeat myself (especially with points that may have been
    roundly out-argued and seen off!). IIRC the debate was about the memetic
    nature of science- i.e. is science a meme(plex). This issue is slightly
    different here though I feel.

            My root position remains that the value of memetics is in offering
    an explanation of cultural behaviours that are malapdaptive in terms of
    natural selection, or at least appear to be. Those aspects of human
    behaviour and behaviour that are adaptive, can be explained without the idea
    of memes- they spread because they're useful. That doesn't mean they aren't
    necessarily memes (as in the science as meme thread) but that there's no
    need for memes to explain the spread of such things.

            So, I suppose I'm not really arguing about whether logic is or isn't
    a meme, but about what value there is in regarding logic as a meme? Is it
    not implicitly arguing that we must treat arguments or ideas appealing to
    logic as inherently suspicious because their proponents are merely memebots
    to the logic meme? Does it not imply that trying to argue about the
    inherent utility of logical thinking, merely makes one ever more in the
    thrall of the logic meme?

            In other words, what are the consequences for regarding logic as a


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