Re: Study shows brain can learn without really trying

From: Ray Recchia (
Date: Wed Nov 21 2001 - 00:00:05 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Study shows brain can learn without really trying
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    We can speak of a proto-culture among primates, or even ants, but it's not
    the same as human culture. The elements are there, but it hasn't "come to
    life," so to speak. It's the seed, not the tree. Not so different from the
    proto-capitalism of antiquity as compared to the true capitalism of
    modernity. Memes are only really *memes* when they've germinated under the
    heat lamp of human consciousness and, after getting buried, begin to work
    their magic. Only then are they carriers of culture. If the replicating
    behavior or concept is strictly a function of unreflective mentality, then
    it's just biology. There's no need to call it a "meme." Just a simple,
    organic habit.


    No reason not to call it a meme actually Ted.  All memes are a function of biology to some degree.  The biologically evolved brain is where these things reside no matter what the species.  I think that in defining meme we ought be true to the intent of inventor of the word.  In 'The Self Gene'  Dawkins defined the meme as a second selfish replicator analogous to the gene.  No consciousness is necessary for the first replicator and we ought not insist that the second replicator requires it either.  This is not to say there isn't some sort of significant difference between memes found in animals and memes found in humans, but there is a difference between the genes found in single celled and multi celled organisms.

    I suspect that whatever the difference we find in human memes we will also find that animal like memes are transmitted by humans as well.  I believe that by studying animal memetic processes we can gain significant insights into our own memetic processes as well.

    Ray Recchia
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