Re: Selfish memes?

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Wed Jan 23 2002 - 00:39:38 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Selfish memes?
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    On Tue, Jan 22, 2002 at 10:18:28AM -0800, Dace wrote:
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: Keith Henson
    > > >>We're born into a world already
    > > >>chalk full of ideas, all of which want to seduce us and propagate in
    > > >>our consciousness,
    > > >
    > > >I don't believe ideas "want" to do anything.
    > >
    > > Of course not, and genes are not "selfish." It is a shortcut method of
    > > thinking Dawkins used to consider things from a gene's or a meme's
    > > viewpoint.
    > He wrote an entire book called *The Selfish Gene.* Are you saying he didn't
    > really mean it? I think we have to accept the fact that, according to
    > Dawkins' theory, memes are not merely ideas capable of replication but
    > autonomous ideas that actively pursue self-replication, much like genes.

    Dawkins is on record as regreting that title, due to the misunderstanding
    it has generated. He says that genes are not literally selfish.

    > > But an idea can certainly cause the person who has it to spread the idea
    > to
    > > others. Such memes tend to become more common as time goes on.
    > Anything with causative power has its own intrinsic existence.

    If it's useful to consider causal entities to exist, then do so. No need
    to make absolutist existential claims, though. Pragmatism rules.

    Robin Faichney
    "One person's mess is another's complexity"
    inside information --

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