Re: Genes are Memes

From: Dace (
Date: Tue Oct 09 2001 - 20:45:58 BST

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    Subject: Re: Genes are Memes
    Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 12:45:58 -0700
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    Hi Salice.

    > > This is what happens when you argue logically from a false premise. If
    > > assume that minds are reducible to brains, then memes are no different
    > > any other material object. If memes can exist in brains and books, then
    > > not planets and stars?
    > Hm, this was not my point. Memes can be found in the behavior of
    > planets and stars.

    And the behavior of a thing is an aspect of that thing. How do you think
    planets and stars formed in the first place except through behavior? Memes
    are found in planets and stars because their behavior reflects those memes.
    That's essentially what you're arguing. Once the meme has been let out of
    the mind box, there's no stopping it. There's nothing fundamentally
    different about brains, behavior, books, planets, and genes. All are in the
    realm of the senses. Try putting a meme under a microscope.

    > > This is materialist mysticism. There's no mind in the brain. The brain
    > > composed of neurons and synapses, not thoughts and feelings.
    > These are different levels of abstractions. Thoughts and feelings are
    > neurons, synapses and energy flowing between them.

    Brains and minds are not "different levels of abstractions." They are real.
    Brains are real, and minds are real. Neurons really exist in brains, and
    abstract ideas really exist in minds. Without neurons brains wouldn't work.
    Without abstractions mind wouldn't be intelligent.

    > To make human thinking and research easy, humans abstract.

    Exactly. We abstract the actual world around us (matter) and within us
    (mind) in order to interact more effectively with the world. It's about
    utility, not reality. Genuine knowledge (science) entails recognizing the
    difference between the menu and the meal, the description and the

    > That doesn't mean if we ABSTRACT neurons,synapses and so on as
    > thoughts, emotions and mind that they both don't exist in the brain!

    Of course they exist in the brain. And the abstractions we come up with
    exist in our imgaination.

    > > To find
    > > anything other than chemicals in the brain is to engage in a kind of
    > > mystical projection.
    > Well your mail arrives here also only as a sequence of bits but i
    > also find words in it,

    No, you don't. What you find on your computer screen is pixels. The words
    are in your mind. It's imagination, not the eye, that "sees" words. We
    superimpose our mental life onto whatever is around us. This is what humans
    have always done.

    > > That memes exist in minds in no way suggests that they
    > > exist in brains.
    > If a meme exists in the mind and the mind exists in the brain then
    > the meme also exists in the brain.

    It's the second part that's problematic. Minds involve something called
    representation. For instance, when we abstract houses, then the word
    "house" represents houses. But representation is not a property of matter.
    At no time does one atom "represent" another atom. At no point does the
    neuron "refer" to something outside of itself. You're projecting a quality
    onto matter that it clearly does not possess. As Henri Bergson put it in
    *Matter & Memory,* the brain cannot be an aspect of the world it allegedly
    represents. Reductionistic science implies some kind of "special" property
    of brains that allows them to perform the miracle of stepping outside the
    box while remaining within it. This is called vitalism. Bergson was,
    unfortunately, also a vitalist, but so is orthodox theory. The only
    difference being that reductionism confines the special "life-force" to the
    brain (and the genes), a modified form of vitalism masquerading as hardcore
    materialism. As usual, the meme survives by cloaking itself.

    > If you don't agree, you either think that the mind is not in the
    > brain or you don't believe in logic.

    Here's a little logic for you, Salice. 1. All phenomena that appear to
    arise from a particular object do indeed arise from that object. 2. The
    mind appears to arise from the brain. 3. (conclusion) The mind arises from
    the brain.

    The problem is the first premise. It's easy to come up with
    counter-examples. For instance, the picture on a television appears to
    arise from within the TV. Yet we know that it actually enters the TV from
    somewhere else, either over the air or via cable. Thus there's at least one
    case in which a phenomenon that appears to arise from an object does not
    arise from that object. We must strike "All" from the first premise and
    replace it with "Some." With this modification, the conclusion no longer

    > > The same goes for books and other media. There are no memes or words or
    > > information contained in books.
    > Oh? That's new.
    > > Books are made of paper, glue, and ink.
    > > That's it. "Words" are merely our *interpretation* of the shapes of ink
    > > see on the page. So, too, there are no words in the air, only
    > > No words in our ears, only drumbeats. No words in our brains, only
    > > electrochemical reactions. Words exist in the mind and nowhere else.
    > > for memes.
    > You seem to be even more materialistic than i am. But you forget the
    > different levels of abstraction.

    That we abstract words doesn't mean the abstraction exists alongside the
    bits of ink on the page. Abstractions have no reality outside the mind. If
    the mind is reducible to the brain-- if it has no intrinsic reality-- then
    abstraction has no reality at all, not even as abstraction, much less the
    thing it represents. In trying to stuff the mind into the brain, you lose
    the mind altogether.

    > > > We live in a memetic world. Reality is a collection of and
    > > > a connection between memes.
    > >
    > > Seems like you've got a thing for memes. They're the explanation for
    > > everything, the answer to every question. You've been taken for a ride
    > > the "meme" meme.
    > It is one view on things. But i think that this view should be
    > correct and today meme-theory is full of meme-rules, "selfish memes"
    > and other crap.

    All memes propagate themselves. The question is whether a given meme does
    so in the general context of human culture, or if it's going freelance.
    Selfish memes are like cancerous cells. They don't function in accord with
    anything outside themselves. They just reproduce their own particular kind.
    If memes are the basis of culture, then selfish memes are the basis of cult.
    Materialist mysticism is a fine example of memetic cancer. This tumor of
    the mind causes otherwise rational people to abandon all sense when it comes
    to issues of life and mentality.


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