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On Monday, January 14, 2002, at 07:23 , Francesca S. Alcorn wrote:
> For instance a meme of intolerance may result in one group isolating
> itself from society at large (the amish) or jihad.
(My far from anything but general understanding of the amish is that
they are distinct, but not isolated. I don't see them as intolerant.)
At any rate, here's my take, coming off the fence, if only to stand
There is no meme of, say, intolerance, since that's what you mentioned,
until intolerance is performed. And thus, there is no 'may result'.
Schroedinger's cat is in a memetic box.
Intolerance, or any other societal or philosophical position, can sit
unpracticed for several generations, or it can be vigorously taught at
all times, or any of a million variations.
In all cases, until that jihad or that teacher or that parent or that
cop or that guy down the street tries to demonstrate this intolerance,
there is no meme whatsoever.
There are no memes outside of the behavior _to_ transmit them, _that_
That is what is memetic. That is how the meme travels. And that is _all_
we can study, or analyze, memetically.
The rest are just-so stories, regardless of attempts at nomenclatural
definition by position, or, they are artefactual products, records kept
or produced by the behavior, with their own cultural contexts and
Motivation is not a meme, anymore than a nailhead above a board is a
motivation for a hammer. But, when a person strikes that nail with that
hammer because it is not fully driven into that board, that (particular)
meme is broadcast. And yes, memes are not present without (some
intention, however slight, of) apprehension.
The meme is the behavior. And it is a cultural behavior, as differing
from an autonomic or innate or reflexive or developmental behavior. If
it's observed, it might 'travel' or 'be understood', and the only proof
of that is that another behavior might manifest. Each behavior is
performed within a complex of motivations, ideas, social yearnings,
cultural conditionings, environmental constraints, and by an individual
with genetic and physical determinants and developments.
None of these conditions is _a_ meme or _the_ meme. They are the source
of the behavior's manifestation, the parts that produce it. (Memeticists
like the word instantiation, but I see that as errant, since it implies
the meme _before_ the behavior.) If you want to say that these parts are
a memeplex, and that memeplexes produce memes, that is a fine
possibility, as long as a memeplex is not considered an entity
_composed_ of memes, but rather as the composer and performer of them,
and as long as this memeplex is a cultural entity, and not just the way
one breathes when fatigued, or desires food when hungry, or any of the
other biological reactive behaviors presented to us all by evolution on
this sphere. (Which, granted, are myriad and still largely not
understood fully. It could even be, returning to the fence briefly, that
these biologically reactive behaviors are all we really have, and
cultural behavior is a myth. If we didn't tell stories, I'd be totally
at home with this view.)
But, yeah, this is all my take on it. And, it's mostly definitional, in
my own attempt to be parsimonious, since the mechanisms are hardly new
or unique. But, 'meme' itself was wandering way too far over the map to
be useful to me, or, I think, really available to anyone else, unless
their intent was to be vague, in which case, since it fit so many
situations, it was a very handy word indeed, and, IMHO, colloquial to a
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