Re: Definition, Please

From: Philip A.E. Jonkers (
Date: Mon Nov 26 2001 - 02:03:22 GMT

  • Next message: Philip A.E. Jonkers: "Re: Definition, Please"

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    From: "Philip A.E. Jonkers" <>
    Organization: UC Berkeley
    Subject: Re: Definition, Please
    Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2001 18:03:22 -0800
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    On Friday 23 November 2001 05:58 pm, you wrote:
    > Hi Philip A.E. Jonkers -
    > >> >anything verbal is memetic by definition
    > >>
    > >> And so is that can of worms.
    > >
    > >That's another meme I don't know. Enlighten me please...
    > Well, making memetics so overarching that all of language and all of
    > technology fall under its spell, is, well, problematic, inasmuch as it's
    > very hard to describe the universe in a few words, pages, models, or
    > institutions. Or a fishbowl.
    > "Opening a can of worms" is the phrase I allude to, much like Pandora's
    > box, since inside that can is a seething mass of -
    > 5. An insidiously tormenting or devouring force.
    > - and, once out, practically impossible to recan.
    > But, again, calling all the processes of culture a memetic process is
    > also difficult if we see so much of those processes in patterns of normal
    > behaviors among such species as birds and termites and chimpanzees. It
    > seems simpler, in the Occamistic sense, to cover such things simply with
    > behavior- cultural behavior being a complex subset of developmentally
    > formative genetics.
    > All of which means, I suppose, that after a long time looking at each and
    > every side, I'm coming down on the socio-biologic. It describes the best
    > model of fishbowl that fits the observations.

    Hi Wade and
    thanks for this wealth of peripheral information. It seems that
    you have little faith in the prospect of memetics being able to explain all
    the diversity of our culture. What propels you to proclaim such a
    heretic vision?

    > So, I'm also coming down on the side that declares that 'meme' is only a
    > handy word to describe a cultural artifact, and that any claim that such
    > an entity resides in any way within a mind is evidenceless prattle.

    Thanks for coming clean with us Wade. It's perhaps a bit too much to ask
    for a memetics-mailing list member to also actually believe in memetics
    theory simultaneously.
    But seriously, I know that memetics is still in its infancy and I don't like
    the diversity of (conflicting) definitions of the meme that go round and its
    almost universal disregard of the meme-hosts. Regarding the latter I tried
    to uplift this `arrogance of the meme' somewhat by the fitness
    increment hypothesis I recently posted. Memes actually (pretend to) do
    something for their hosts instead of merely selfishly exploiting
    and/or parasiting them for their own purposes of replication.
    Anyway, I'm dwelling, it doesn't mean that the
    theory is basically wrong or not fruitful. I think most of its implications
    and assertions are mostly right. Rather than forgetting the whole
    theory, it needs, perhaps a lot of, refinement and redefining I think.


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