RE: Study shows brain can learn without really trying

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Mon Nov 05 2001 - 10:47:50 GMT

  • Next message: Wade T.Smith: "RE: Study shows brain can learn without really trying"

    Received: by id LAA17605 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Mon, 5 Nov 2001 11:47:40 GMT
    Message-ID: <>
    From: Vincent Campbell <>
    To: "''" <>
    Subject: RE: Study shows brain can learn without really trying
    Date: Mon, 5 Nov 2001 10:47:50 -0000 
    X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2650.21)
    Content-Type: text/plain
    X-Filter-Info: UoS MailScan 0.1 [D 1]
    Precedence: bulk

            <It gives a competitive edge among intensely social animals like
    > While it does nothing for survival of the group as a whole, reflexive
    > consciousness determines which members of the group are more likely to
    > reproduce. It's among primates that the terrain of competition begins to
    > shift from environmental to social. The successful ones are those who are
    > aware of themselves as minds and not just as bodies.>
            Well, that would be so nice if it were true, that all we had to do
    to be successful in life is to be self aware. Primate societies may be
    highly social, but they are also highly hierarchical in both genders
    (silverbacks and all that). Humans, as we've covered before, are by no
    means the same, but from interpersonal interaction to international
    diplomacy force seems to count for quite a lot.

            <Step 1: I write an email and hit the send button.
    > Step 2: My computer transmits the email.
    > Step 3: Your computer receives my email.
    > Step 4: You read my email.
    > Do you really think steps 1 and 4 are essentially the same as steps 2 and
    > 3?
    > Of course there's no self involved in steps 2 and 3. But these only
    > follow
    > automatically. There's nothing automatic about steps 1 and 4. The
    > message
    > would never have been created without an individual to have thought of it,
    > and it can't be understood except by a person who reads it. Only when I
    > write it and you read it is it a "message." Otherwise it's just blind,
    > electronic impulses. Transmission of electronic impulses requires no
    > self.
    > Transmission of ideas and memes does. In fact, a meme is an idea that
    > takes
    > on its own self-existence.>
            I think what I'm driving at here is the problem of self and
    consciousness, that it is possible for information transmission to occur
    without the thing transmitting it being conscious of what they are doing.
    Do individual guppies have selves? They appear to respond to the behaviour
    of other guppies in experiments in a way that implies cultural transmission,
    but would we therefore have to regard them as having selves, or are they
    merely following a behavioural algorithm? Now, the next question is whether
    we consider such transmission between guppies as memes or not, Dugatkin
    does, no doubt others would not. Are we talking about something that has a
    behavioural impact, or must it be something that is consciously sent, and
    consciously interpreted, the kind of "message" you're talking about? Where
    would the information transmitted in body language come into your equation,
    for example?

            I'm not disputing that what most people would refer to as memes
    involve motivated individuals, just whether the self is an absolute
    necessity for memes.


    The University of Stirling is a university established in Scotland by
    charter at Stirling, FK9 4LA.  Privileged/Confidential Information may
    be contained in this message.  If you are not the addressee indicated
    in this message (or responsible for delivery of the message to such
    person), you may not disclose, copy or deliver this message to anyone
    and any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is
    prohibited and may be unlawful.  In such case, you should destroy this
    message and kindly notify the sender by reply email.  Please advise
    immediately if you or your employer do not consent to Internet email
    for messages of this kind.  Opinions, conclusions and other
    information in this message that do not relate to the official
    business of the University of Stirling shall be understood as neither
    given nor endorsed by it.

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Nov 05 2001 - 11:53:13 GMT