Re: Wilkins on the meme:engram relation

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Mon Dec 03 2001 - 12:45:14 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Wilkins on the meme:engram relation
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    On Mon, Dec 03, 2001 at 09:26:43AM +1100, John Wilkins wrote:
    > Evolutionary genes (replicators) and memes (also replicators)
    > are not the same as the physical entities that are usually their
    > instantiation. I am tending to see replicators as abstract entities with
    > no causal role. In sum, they are bookkeeping entities, as Wimsatt once
    > said.

    Spot on! There's a book entitled something like "Economics as if people
    mattered". To do genetics is to look at the development of lifeforms
    as if the survival of the gene is what matters, and to do memetics is
    to look at the development of culture as if the survival of the meme is
    what matters.

    What *really* matters? Nothing, in general, because it depends on the
    specific context. In these contexts, these strategies are useful -- or at
    least, in the case of memetics, we might suppose that it will eventually
    be proven so. But neither gene nor meme is either active or concrete.
    They're just patterns in the flow.

    "A prime source of meta-memes" -- inside information --
    Robin Faichney

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