Re: Memetic Engineering v/s Cultural Evolution

Date: Tue Dec 18 2001 - 07:19:56 GMT

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    Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2001 02:19:56 -0500
    Subject: Re: Memetic Engineering v/s Cultural Evolution
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    >Hi all
    >I came across the concept of memes some years ago in
    an examination of
    >cultural development as predicated by elements
    encoded into cultural
    >narratives. My thesis views cultures as the products
    of memetic
    >engineering rather than a 'natural selection', or
    evolution process as many
    >of you suggest.
    >In this context I define a meme as the underlying
    code which identifies an
    >artefact of culture as valid or invalid within a
    culture. A cultural
    >artefact is anything from a thought to a tea-pot
    which is produced by a
    >For example, a Western formative narrative may begin
    with "Once upon a time
    >there was a poor Prince". This unremarkable
    beginning assumes the
    >acceptance of; linier time, material and hereditary
    hierarchy, and would
    >probably end with "And they lived happily ever
    after". The normalising
    >effect of this narrative excludes the artefacts of
    non-compliant cultures
    >in like manner to the way that a genetically created
    physical body will
    >identify and reject a splinter of wood.
    >As you will understand the concepts which I am
    discussing are more subtle
    >than 'thought contagion'. In fact for a thought to
    be contagious it must
    >either be recognisable as valid or be able to invade
    the cultural body To
    >me memes are truly like the genes of culture. Each
    artefact produced
    >within a culture and every artefact of another
    culture is judged for its
    >acceptability or validity according to the code which
    produces, maintains,
    >defends and reproduces that culture.
    >My thesis, (1999), examines the cultural narratives
    of indigenous and
    >non-indigenous Australians. In a nutshell I claim
    that cultures are
    >designed, and that their directions are predicated,
    by the processes of
    >sense-creation (i.e. makes sense or doesn't) which is
    embedded in
    >childhood, spiritual, historical and contemporary
    narratives. In it I have
    >attempted to 'map' a cultural meme (and - I did it
    before the human gene
    >was mapped). The interesting thing is that the 'meme
    maps' for the two
    >cultures are consistently different.
    >My thesis is only at an honours level but if any of
    you would like to read
    >it E me and I will send it.
    >Cheers Jeremy
    >P. S. I may be a bit slow replying but don't worry
    I'll get there.

    Hi Jeremy, sounds like fun, please send it to me.
    You should realize though that engineering has also
    a significant trial-and-error component. Sometimes
    a machine does what it is supposed to do, but
    sometimes it doesn't. Although, the expertise and
    prior knowledge of the engineers doesn't make
    engineering a completely blind design process (such
    as biological design) there is an inherently random
    component present. This makes engineering also, to
    some extent, an evolutionary design process.


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