Re: Modes of Transmission

Date: Wed Jan 16 2002 - 13:37:57 GMT

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    In a message dated 1/16/2002 12:59:55 AM Central Standard Time, Joe Dees
    <> writes:

    > > <>Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 00:12:06 EST
    > > Re: Modes of Transmission
    > >
    > >In a message dated 1/15/2002 10:30:17 PM Central Standard Time,Joe Dees
    > ><> writes:
    > >
    > >Hi Joe.
    > >
    > >It looks like you are listing media of communication, at least with
    > to
    > >the transmission of ideas.
    > >
    > >
    > >Some very basic questions are:
    > >
    > >1. WHAT is the replicator or WHAT are the replicators
    > >
    > >2. HOW does the replicator (or replicators) replicate
    > >
    > >3. WHY do some replicators replicate more than others do.
    > >
    > >Questions 1 and 2 seem to be getting mixed together in recent threads,
    > though
    > >I have not read everything.
    > >
    > I have been endeavoring to separate them, while at the same time noting
    > means of replicating the understandings replicated may constitute memes
    > themselves (ways of doing things, e. g. replicating memes), each of which
    > functionally applicable to many (although not all) memetic content. For
    > instance, it is easier to read WAR AND PEACE for comprehension (although
    > in and of itself is no easy task) than it is to mime it.
    > >
    > >In answering question 1, there seem to be three very broad classes under
    > >consideration:
    > >
    > > A. Internal phenomena that might be called ideas and/or memories
    > >internal behaviors,
    > >
    > > B. External behaviors, typically visible, audible, tangible, etc.
    > >the unaided senses
    > >
    > > C. Artifacts.
    > >
    > I maintain that in a finer grained sense, real distinctions may be drawn;
    > for instance, signing, although ephemeral and visual, is constitutive of a
    > language, that is, a symbol system, whereas picturing (such as drawing,
    > photography, etc.), although inscribed, does not employ such a system, but
    > instead endeavors to re-present the object iconically.

    I agree.

    Some other points that may help reduce confusion are the following:

    With respect to ideas (memory items, etc.) viewed as replicators, external
    behaviors and artifacts can be parts of modes of transmission.

    With respect to external behaviors viewed as replicators, ideas and artifacts
    can be parts of modes of transmission.

    With respect to artifacts viewed as replicators, ideas and behaviors can be
    parts of modes of transmission.

    In general, "sameness" and hence replication occur only with respect to
    abstractions. So one must be clear about whether the abstraction one is using
    is an abstraction of memory items, and abstraction of external behaviors, or
    an abstraction of artifacts.

    --Aaron Lynch

    > >
    > >All of A, B, and C are identified by way of abstractions, as discussed in
    > >this excerpt from my paper Units, Events, and Dynamics in the
    > >Epidemiology of ideas (
    > >
    > >" Many of the conceptual and analytical tools used to consider thought
    > >contagions also pertain to the various other kinds of cultural
    > >though often with modification. Still, the similarities allow for
    > scientists
    > >to study a range of different kinds of cultural replicators. As with
    > >items, one still needs abstractions to consider two behaviors or two
    > >artifacts "the same." That means that one still needs to use abstractions
    > to
    > >view behaviors or artifacts as replicators. For example, it takes an
    > >abstraction to say that two people both performed "the same" behavior of
    > >tying a shoe. One does not mean that hands followed the exact same
    > >trajectories over time, since no two people's hands are exactly
    > >Some hands have fewer than five digits, others have extra digits, while
    > still
    > >others have arthritic joints. Even for a single individual, the
    > trajectories
    > >followed in tying a shoe can vary dramatically, while the physiological
    > state
    > >of the hands and body also change from moment to moment and year to year.
    > >What one calls "the behavior" of tying a shoe is recognized more for the
    > >outcome of a secure bow made by one person than the specific behavior
    > leading
    > >to that result. People also learn different ways of tying a shoe:
    > >single-handedly or left-handedly, while others learn to tie bows that
    > >slight topological differences such as a clockwise or counterclockwise
    > twist.
    > >Compounding the diversity is the huge variety of shoes and shoe laces. A
    > very
    > >young child needs a certain amount of experiential learning just to know
    > that
    > >a shoe-tying behavior is happening. Cultural replication can only happen
    > with
    > >respect to an abstraction, whether it involves internal memory items or
    > >external behaviors and artifacts or any combination of them.
    > >
    > >While a behavior such as tying a shoe is not itself a thought contagion,
    > the
    > >knowledge of how to tie a shoe with a bow does spread as a thought
    > contagion.
    > >The ease of untying a slip knot such as a bow would have given people
    > >incentive to learn the knowledge of how to tie a bow from other people
    > >doing it. As that knowledge spread in adults, parents had motives for
    > >inculcating the knowledge into their children: doing so saved them from
    > >having to dig terrible knots out of their children's shoelaces or from
    > >dealing with shoes falling off of their children or from always having to
    > >help the children with their shoes.
    > >
    > >When artifacts are viewed as replicators, most involve brains at some
    > >in the causal pathway to forming new "copies." Bows tied in shoelaces do
    > not
    > >replicate themselves, and they are usually not even used for clues about
    > how
    > >to tie shoelaces. Instead, bows result from behaviors that result from
    > stored
    > >knowledge, with the behaviors playing an essential role in communicating
    > the
    > >knowledge from brain to brain. The bow as an artifact helps call
    > to
    > >the fact that there is a useful bow-tying behavior and knowledge of how
    > >tie a bow. The artifacts of bows, the behavior of tying bows, and the
    > >knowledge of how to tie a bow all depend upon each other for propagation.
    > >They all depend on the persistence of memory for preservation, as the
    > >and the behaviors of tying them usually remain dormant while people sleep
    > >with their shoes off and untied. " END QUOTE
    > >
    > >
    > >In regard to ideas as replicators, the general question 2 of how the
    > >replicators replicate includes both the media of communication and other
    > >behavioral specifics. Under media of communication, you do indeed have
    > >things as showing, saying, writing, and picturing. With respect to idea
    > >transmission, artifacts and behaviors can be media of communication.
    > >with showing, saying, writing, and picturing, one might add signing (as
    > >sign language), and even some exotic, futuristic methods involving
    > >micro-neurosurgery. If we could learn from osmosis, I would add that one
    > too
    > >:-)
    > >
    > Thanx for the info.; I have bookmarked them for future perusal.
    > >
    > >
    > >--Aaron Lynch

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