Re: Memes and Archetypes

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Tue Jul 24 2001 - 02:17:14 BST

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    From: "Scott Chase" <>
    Subject: Re: Memes and Archetypes
    Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2001 21:17:14 -0400
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    >From: Julio Varela <>
    >Subject: Memes and Archetypes
    >Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2001 17:49:26 -0400
    >Hello All!
    > I'm working on a dissertation that has led me to consider what,
    >if anything, can be said about a possible relationship between memes and
    >Jungian archetypes. I would greatly appreciate hearing your opinions on
    >this matter. If you all know of anybody working on this idea, or any
    >scholarship that is out there, please email me (and share it with the
    >list as well!). Thanks in advance.
    First it might be a good thing to establish that Dawkinsian "memes" and
    Jungian "archetypes" indeed exist. Memes are supposedly culturally
    transmitted and are somewhat akin as puppet masters to Jung's concept of
    complexes which supposedly reside in the personal unconscious. Archetypes
    are at best genetically transmitted residing in what Jung called the
    "collective unconscious". Their puppet strings stem, at best, from the

    You might read some of E. O. Wilson's talk about culturgens and epigenetic
    rules. I could stand to follow this advice sometime soon myself ;-)

    In culture archetypes might correspond to deep seated themes which are more
    or less homologous across cultures reflecting human common ancestry where
    memes are more superficial and ephemeral spur of the moment sorts of things
    that could ride, in some cases, atop the archetypal themes. If one thinks of
    a leash between genes and memes the archetypal themes would show greater
    leashing, perhaps in the sense connoted by Wilson's culturgens where memes
    are not usually as constrained within the grooves of an epigenetic

    I obviously have not given this much thought lately. I leave it for others
    to expand or hopefully improve my babble above.

    Again we might want to consider whether Jungian archetypes, Dawkinsian memes
    or both concepts together inform us about real world psychological
    phenomena. I'm lukewarm to cold on either, but it's an interesting
    connection to ponder for fun.

    Jungian concepts have unfortunate spooky associations due to some of his
    mystical or parapsychological meanderings. The idea of synchronicity baffles
    me and probably drives lots of critically minded and skeptic people up the
    wall. You might do well to read some of Anthony Stevens's work dressing
    Jungian ideas in more sociobiologically, ethologically or evolutionary
    psychologically friendly clothing. There's also Joseph Campbell who I have
    not had much experience with.

    I would also be interested in any work by anyone making theoretical
    connection between memes and archetypes.

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