Re: Study shows brain can learn without really trying

From: Wade Smith (
Date: Wed Nov 21 2001 - 19:49:40 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Study shows brain can learn without really trying
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    > That's interesting. It seems to have nothing in common with
    > what people
    > like Dawkins and Dennett and Blackmore mean by the word. Can
    > you explain
    > why you want to use "meme" that way?

    I don't see it as misplaced. If culture and memes are connected
    at the hip and somehow humancentric (as opposed to a more
    complex form of spiderweb or birdsong, which would be totally
    Wilsonian, and which I don't discount), then somehow and
    somewhere, humans _do_ something that is unique- they create,
    they don't just reacte. ;-)

    So, okay, here we are, putting memes in just about anywhere we
    think they might fit, and finding perhaps a few places where
    they don't really belong, where other things already are, and
    where arguments are the only product of the squeeze.

    So, if there is (and there don't have to be) an attempt to
    explain why humans do this 'create' thingee, I personally see
    memes as an explanation, often specifically- to bring our
    culture that needed step beyond the reacting behaviors of the
    genetic model.

    Which is why I say "Memes seem to reside somewhere within the
    mechanisms that allow humans the capacity to create."

    Note that I haven't, and didn't, supply a _definition_ at all.
    I'm more looking for a place to put any of several

    But, once the developmental requirements for our social mind
    happened evolutionarily, when and where did the memetic seed
    grow that made cultural learning happen? (Or did it?)

    Is culture the way social minds grow through the cracks in the
    sidewalk, the way plants will?

    Or is it all just the way the process of life has worked out?

    If it _is_ just the way the process of life has worked out, do
    we need memes? After all, the spider's web, and the termites'
    mounds, and the birds' song, are delightful and intricate and
    complex and changing, but, not one single meme is needed.

    And if it isn't, aren't they a good place to start to explain
    why it ain't?

    IMHO, unless it ain't, memes are a mistake on a basic level.
    They aren't needed.

    > Do amoeba imitate each other? I'd have thought genetics enough to
    > explain the behaviour of any such simple organism.

    Yes, no argument. And these patterns of behavior do not need
    memetic determinants. And there is a very good (very, very,
    good, IMHO) argument that nothing that we do needs a memetic
    determinant either, but could be viewed completely and utterly
    as genetically and developmentally organized patterns of
    behavior. The Hari Seldon model, if you will, only made
    incomprehensible by the natural chaos of the
    environment/universe, not any inherent special quality of
    consciousness in this otherwise singular lifeform called homo
    sapiens sapiens. The self as an environ-mental crack in the

    - Wade

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