Re: Memes inside brain

From: Bill Spight (
Date: Thu Oct 04 2001 - 21:27:10 BST

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    From: Bill Spight <>
    Subject: Re: Memes inside brain
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    Suppose that we did not have eggs and sperm segregated from other cells,
    but produced them on demand, not by copying germ-line DNA, but through
    some more general process of construction or reconstruction. Heredity
    would be a much more iffy affair. Even if both parents had, say, blue
    eyes, there would be an appreciable chance that the child's eyes would
    be some other color. There would be no such thing as a gene in the sense
    of a stretch of DNA that, barring accident, is passed along to
    offspring. We might not even talk about genes, but about inherited

    Such a state of affairs would be more analogous to memetics than actual
    genetics is, particularly if we assume that memes reside in brains.
    Memory is not a process of copying. In the 19th century psychologists
    and neurologists believed that, but by the time of Bartlett's classic,
    "Remembering", we knew better. Memory is a process of reconstruction.
    Any memory based theory of memes has to meet that fact head on.

    Dawkins conceived of memes as residing in the brain and as reproducing
    by imitation, i. e., by copying. He's a biologist, not a psychologist.
    That view of memory is naive, passe.

    It would be great if memory were copying. Then a great deal of genetics
    could be incoporated whole hog into memetics. But it isn't, and it

    BTW, in "Remembering" Bartlett studied cultural transmission. I haven't
    looked at the book for years, but I think that it will bear a
    re-reading. :-)



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