Re: A Question for Wade

From: Wade T.Smith (
Date: Mon Nov 26 2001 - 03:56:56 GMT

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    Subject: Re: A Question for Wade
    Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2001 22:56:56 -0500
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    Hi Joe Dees -

    >You are cutting off exclusively at the end - the product, and saying that
    >only the millions of cars can be memes. I'm pushing inclusively from the
    >beginning, and saying that not only are cars (instantiations of) memes,
    >but so are schematics of cars, auto production factories, and the physical
    >and aesthetic principles governing their construction.

    And, hmmm, I'm not disagreeing with that, at all, except for the very
    last phrase, because, until ideas are embodied, they are not memes, in my
    'only artifacts are memes' stance.

    Yes, the schematics are memes, and the individual nuts and bolts in the
    factory are too.

    But, that's all incidental to the product of the factory, in this case,
    the car. I'm not cutting off anything, any more than biologists cut off
    the trilobite- that it was there is incontrovertible- that it was part of
    the environment and timeline that produced homo sapiens is evident- but,
    we are talking about this particular product at this particular time. (In
    the trilobite's case, it's a fossil, but, that's irrelevant. It was here,
    and we know it. Steam power was here, too, and we know it. We could even
    make it available again for our factory, thanks to all those memes about
    it in the library.)

    The novel meme is introduced, and accepted, or not, and then used, or
    not. The wheel is now everywhere, where once it was only one. But the
    wheel is now something for anyone at any time to grab and use, part of
    the operating environment, common- it's out there, available.

    And nothing is a meme until it is available. And no idea is available
    until it is artifact, of some type.

    Now, if that is a violation of the type/token distinction, then I need, I
    guess, to know what that is. A token is a representation, and a type is a
    category, where a token can be something taken for something else, if
    agreed upon culturally, and a type is a general description, like car for
    Cadillac, which is taxonomic and not merely cultural.

    I don't think I'm missing a distinction between those terms, or
    conflating them.

    - Wade

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