Re: Wilkins on the meme:engram relation

From: John Wilkins (
Date: Mon Dec 03 2001 - 02:14:22 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Wilkins on the meme:engram relation
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    On Monday, December 3, 2001, at 12:51 PM, <> wrote:

    > In a message dated 12/2/2001 5:16:14 PM Central Standard Time, Scott
    > Chase
    > <> writes:
    >> Lynch may have. Here I am struggling with pinning down all the
    >> terminology
    >> and he goes and drops it altogether. I was probably premature in
    >> tackling
    >> his concept as his was more of an abstraction, suiting his purposes.
    >>> The many-many mapping from lower level
    >>> to higher is a problem in genetics and in memetics that needs to be
    >>> addressed.
    >> It seemed you were touching on something which I couldn't quite
    > articulate,
    >> along the lines of bridging the memory/culture divide and how memory
    >> units
    >> would relate to cultural units. I've been hoping to delve deeper into
    >> Gatherer's, Lynch's and your articles, when my time budget allows.
    >> Lynch
    > has
    >> changed his a couple times now. The Cloak stuff is much
    >> appreciated...something else needing more delving on my part.
    > Hi Scott.
    > My apologies for leading you to spend time on my "mnemon" neologism and
    > then
    > dropping it. I had already been thinking of dropping it, but your
    > recent post
    > and John Wilkins's comments helped convince me that the word was simply
    > not
    > serving the objective of good communication. A neologism, it seems, can
    > loom
    > as a big distraction in the middle of a text, drawing attention away
    > from
    > what is new in the thesis of a paper and toward the idea of a new
    > entity or
    > structure being proposed to go with the new word. With both the word
    > "meme"
    > and "mnemon" gone from the main text of my paper, the idea of a new
    > structure
    > or mental entity might not come to mind and distract readers any more.
    > I view
    > responsibility for good communication as falling primarily on the
    > author of
    > an article, so I did not like to see you struggling to pin down a small
    > piece
    > of terminology if it could be avoided. I also realized that if you were
    > struggling with my neologism, then surely many other intelligent readers
    > would also struggle.
    The Kingdom of heaven is at hand. I agree with Aaron without
    reservation :-)

    The whole neologism of meme is exactly what Aaron says - a distraction.
    I would rather we referred to this whole thing as cultural Darwinism (I
    would have said cultural evolution, but that has too many connotations
    from the turn of the 20th century), which - if one has read one's
    Ewald - includes epidemiological models.

    Aaron, I promise at some unspecified future time to read your essay in
    detail. Possibly after the PhD thesis is in.

    John S Wilkins
    PhD candidate, species concepts
    History and Philosophy of Science, jointly with Botany
    The University of Melbourne, Australia

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