Re: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory Perception

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Tue Jan 22 2002 - 04:57:35 GMT

  • Next message: Francesca S. Alcorn: "Re: Sensory and sensibility and a big question"

    Received: by id FAA15410 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Tue, 22 Jan 2002 05:01:59 GMT
    X-Originating-IP: []
    From: "Scott Chase" <>
    Subject: Re: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory Perception
    Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 23:57:35 -0500
    Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed
    Message-ID: <>
    X-OriginalArrivalTime: 22 Jan 2002 04:57:35.0397 (UTC) FILETIME=[4EB69D50:01C1A301]
    Precedence: bulk

    >From: "Wade T. Smith" <>
    >Subject: Re: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory Perception
    >Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 22:17:18 -0500
    >On Sunday, January 20, 2002, at 09:40 , Joe Dees wrote:
    >>It is entirely inappropriate to equate ant pheromones with human
    >>language; in fact, this may be the poster child for the term 'bad
    >I wasn't enraptured with it. Incomplete, at best.
    >I was more attaching culture to it, though.
    >>And unless a meme
    >>is out there, it is nowhere.
    >>Then there can be no new ideas, because they would have to be conceived
    >>before thay could be transmitted.
    >Well, maybe I'm being mystical, but I would not say there are no new
    >ideas, just no new ideas _only in the head_. One has to express it. And
    >in the expression, the new idea happens.
    In one of his more intriguing works "Cryptomnesia" published originally in
    1905 Carl Jung touches on the novelty of ideas. In one part he says (a
    little out of context admittedly): "...originality lies only in the
    combination of psychic elements and not in the material, as everything in
    nature eloquently testifies." This is in the midst of Jung's discussion of
    direct versus indirect memory-images. Later in the essay Jung says: "I said
    earlier that only the combinations are new, not the material, which hardly
    alters at all, or only very slowly and almost imperceptibly. Have we not
    seen all Bocklin's hues already in the old masters? And were not the
    fingers, arms, legs, noses and throats of Michelangelo's statues all somehow
    prefigured in antiquity? The smallest parts of a master work are certainly
    always old, even the next largest, the combined units, are mostly taken over
    from somewhere else; and in the last resort a master will not scorn to
    incorporate whole chunks of the past in a new work. Our psyche is not so
    fabulously rich that it can build from scratch each time. Neither does

    Jung goes on to discuss the concept of "cryptomnesia" citing Theodore
    Flournoy and offering a possible case study, a striking similarity between a
    passage in Friedrich Nietzsche's _Thus Spake Zarathustra_ and another in
    Justinus Kerner's _Blatter aus Prevorst_ hinging on people going ashore on
    an island "to shoot rabbits". I suggest reading Jung's essay in its
    entirety, though Harvard psychologist Daniel Schacter relates Jung's
    treatment of Nietzsche's putative cryptomnesia in his very recent book _The
    Seven Sins of Memory_.

    So is there truly nothing new under the sun, just a hodgepodge of old stuff
    strung together in novel ways? Maybe I should ruminate on Jung's take
    regarding material versus combination. Probably one of Jung's more cogent


    Jung CG. "Cryptomnesia" as found in _Psychiatric Studies_ (CW 1). 1957.
    trans. by Hull. Bollingen Foundation, New York

    Schacter DL. 2001. The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and
    Remembers. Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston

    MSN Photos is the easiest way to share and print your photos:

    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 : Tue Jan 22 2002 - 05:17:30 GMT