Re: Cichlids & Memes

From: Chris Taylor (
Date: Thu Aug 30 2001 - 17:10:51 BST

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    > > Of course whether fish really have culture or memes is, I suspect, a matter
    > > of some contention.
    > Hmmm. I wonder if it is possible to have memes without culture.
    > I know, I know, memes are defined as building blocks of culture, so the
    > notion of a meme without culture is meaningless. Or is it?
    > Isn't it possible to have patterns of behavior that are reproduced via
    > imitation, are varied and subject to selection, without their combining
    > in a superstructure that we call culture? Why not? The imitation of mate
    > preferences in guppies seems a good candidate for such.

    Absolutely, I couldn't agree more. This is difference between uni- and
    multicellular life if you like, and as with that, the simple is
    conceivable without the complex, but not the complex sans the simple. So
    I would say that patterns of behaviour without culture is not just
    likely, but a necessary precursor to complex meta structures like
    culture (or multicellular life). Another analogy: I can imagine
    individual species without an ecosystem (e.g. those km-deep in the rock
    microbes), but I can't imagine an ecosystem without individual species
    (by definition, obviously).

    One of my fave versions of this sort of thing is to consider the
    transition from a bag full of superstitions, to a codified religion (a
    meta structure over the pre-existent superstitions).

     Chris Taylor ( »people»chris

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