Re: Wilkins on the meme:engram relation

Date: Wed Dec 05 2001 - 04:00:08 GMT

  • Next message: John Wilkins: "Re: Wilkins on the meme:engram relation"

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    Subject: Re: Wilkins on the meme:engram relation
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    In a message dated 12/4/2001 6:18:45 AM Central Standard Time, Bill Benzon
    <> writes:

    > > That said, I will add that if Gell-Mann had made a mess of the word
    > > quantum chromodynamics would most likely still have developed, even if
    > under
    > > a different name. One can think of all sorts of vague ways that Gell-Mann
    > > might have coined a word, perhaps referring to almost any subnuclear
    > > particle, for instance. But if he had, then physicists would have
    > > ignored the term and some other term would have emerged in connection
    > > very similar theoretical constructs.
    > In the case of culture, what we need is a well-developed body of theory
    > about cultural change. The reason "meme" is surrounded with confusion is
    > that it doesn't link to any well-developed body of theory. It's just a
    > that's analogically attached to a body of biological theory that folks want
    > to refit for cultural use. It's the refitting that's difficult.
    > Bill B

    Hi Bill.

    As we try to develop and communicate some well-developed theories, we will
    generally want to use terms that are as unambiguous as possible.

    A comparable mess with quarks might have erupted if Gell-Mann first used the
    term in a very limited role to try to explain the strong nuclear force, and
    then some years later began using the term in substantially different ways
    and without explanation to apply to whole different classes of phenomena such
    as gravitation or electromagnetism. People would then have had to use
    different terminology in their efforts to build broadly unifying theories of
    the fundamental forces.

    --Aaron Lynch

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