Re: Sensory and sensibility and a big question

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Fri Jan 18 2002 - 17:15:21 GMT

  • Next message: Philip Jonkers: "Re: Do all memes die out or evolve? I think not."

    Received: by id RAA03301 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Fri, 18 Jan 2002 17:19:55 GMT
    Message-Id: <>
    Subject: Re: Sensory and sensibility and a big question
    Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2002 12:15:21 -0500
    x-mailer: Claris Emailer 2.0v3, Claritas Est Veritas
    From: "Wade T. Smith" <>
    To: "Memetics Discussion List" <>
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"
    Precedence: bulk

    Hi Francesca S. Alcorn -

    >Is memetic behavior by
    >definition learned and not hardwired? If so, how can you
    >operationalize that distinction?

    Certainly the capacity for it is hardwired, like our capacity for
    language. But it is a develpmental capacity, and needs environmental

    (The ultimate test for memetics would be ultimately unethical- requiring
    a human to be raised in total isolation.)

    As Joe and others have mentioned, there are benchmarks of development.
    You've seen, and will see, them yourself, as a mother. Here at Harvard,
    Jerome Kagan and others have shown genetic predispositions to personality
    types, (not surprisingly, with no correlates to astrological
    designation), and child development laboratories are still thriving areas
    of research. The mirror test, and the 'I' moment, are all indicative. If
    memetics requires language, and it requires a 'self', the 'I' moment
    would be the marker, IMHO.

    >I have always had a distinction in my own mind between behaviors and

    Have you had a distinction between memetic behavior and genetic behavior?

    >behavior you emit - be it spoken, written, acting (bashing someone on
    >the head) or creating artifacts, those are all expressions of the

    _If_ the behavior you emit is _precisely_ the behavior the 'meme'
    expected to exhibit, then, I think the internal memists have their day.
    But, from all corners of experience, I hold that one's behavior is
    almost, at many moments, as unknown and unexpected to them as it would be
    to a stranger, and even the strongest of intentions do not produce the
    behavior desired.

    And, again, many times, we do exactly what we set out to do.
    Demonstrating the meme of stubborn resistance....

    And sometimes, we do things only to instruct others in how to do things.

    And, and.... The gamut of behaviors is almost as varied as the incredible
    practically limitless chain of genetic material they arise from.

    >I think that
    >human minds might be the first environment in which sexual
    >reproduction of memes could take place.

    I started a sort of frivolous thread here about what might be sexual in
    memetics, since sex in genetics is such a vital engine of evolution, but
    I never considered hermaphroditic internalizations. I think it still
    takes two to tango, even on the memetic dance floor. After all, where did
    that meme come from? And, did you take it in consentually?

    - Wade

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Jan 18 2002 - 17:30:27 GMT