Re: Abstractism

From: Joe Dees (
Date: Tue Jan 29 2002 - 08:50:53 GMT

  • Next message: Joe Dees: "Re: necessity of mental memes"

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    > "Grant Callaghan" <> Re: AbstractismDate: Mon, 28 Jan 2002 07:35:03 -0800
    >AbstractismDate: Sun, 27 Jan 2002 10:33:27 -0800
    >> >Reply-To:
    >> >
    >> >
    >> >
    >> >> Ted:
    >> >> > An abstract description of memes would involve elements that are
    >> >> > found among all memes. It's no different than describing anything
    >> >> > else. We can abstract the qualities of trees and thereby arrive at a
    >> >> > general definition of trees. But if you want to describe a
    >> >> > tree, you'll have to leave the abstractions behind. Same goes with
    >> >> > memes.
    >> >>
    >> >> Okay, I can see your objection. What I had in mind however was to
    >> >> abstractly regard one meme which may reside in multiple hosts. Each
    >> >> host has somekind of neural representation of the meme which is highly
    >> >> non-unique as Derek pointed out.
    >> >
    >> >If our brains contain representations of memes, then memes evidently
    >> >somewhere other than the brain. Where are they? Behavior, artifacts?
    >> >Henri Bergson pointed out a century ago, in his book *Matter & Memory*,
    >> >which represents the world cannot simultaneously be a part of the world.
    >> >
    >>Bergson was wrong on many things; his book DURATION AND SIMULTANEITY, in
    >>which he attempted to refute Einstein's relativity theory, was a source of
    >>great embarassment to the philosophical discipline. In fact, I have a
    >>picture of a tree on my wall. It definitely represents a tree; are you
    >>saying that the tree demolecularized when the picture was taken? The meme
    >>IS the representation; when eleven people all have learned the mass-energy
    >>conversion equation (that energy is equal to mass multiplied by the speed
    >>of light squared) in physics class, all of them have encoded tokens of
    >>single meaningful informational type, or meme, each token stored in such a
    >>manner that it's coding, in the context of the coding of the rest of the
    >>individual's cognitive storage (it's gestalt context) represents that, in
    >>the individual, which is generically referred to by the equation e=mc*2,
    >>and that equation is recognizeable by all eleven (providing they use
    >>standard english and mathematical notat!
    >>ion) as a description of what they have learned. They wpild recognize the
    >>equation, and that recognition would prompt recall.
    >> >
    >> >Representation is not a property of physics. The brain is a physical
    >> >object. Therefore representation does not exist within the brain.
    >> >
    >>Representation is not found in the matter and energy per se, but in their
    >>meaningful configuration. According to your formulation, since everything
    >>in the universe is matter/energy, representation can exist nowhere in it.
    >>Is this the position you are representing?
    >> >
    >> > Memes
    >> >are mental, and their presence is reflected in the brain insofar as the
    >> >brain facilitates all mental activity.
    >> >
    >>The brain is the material substrate for the emergent mind. Are you trying
    >>to assert, like some of the medievalists, that our minds exist in some
    >>timeless, platonic realm, and are only beamed into our heads, say our
    >>pineal glands, by the Great Radio Technician in the Sky? Puh-LEEEZE!
    >> >
    >> >> Moreover it is likely to be a function of
    >> >> time as well as you constantly update, modify and increase your
    >> >> knowledge database. With abstract description of one particular meme
    >> >> I meant a description captured in language (or other mode of
    >> >> communication) which may be more or less the same in all of the hosts
    >> >> at hand.
    >> >
    >> >In other words, the meme itself is in our minds, while the neural
    >> >in our brains vary from person to person.
    >> >
    >>Close, but each meme can still mean different things to different people.
    >>The meme that there is bacon in the fridge would mean different things to
    >>three people sitting at a table if one was Muslim, another vegan and a
    >>third a secular humanist omnivore.
    >> >
    >> >
    >> >Ted
    >> >
    >I'm rapidly approaching the conclusion that no two people can agree on what
    >the term "meme" refers to. It's easy to define what a word is -- it has
    >concrete representation in the form of sounds and symbols. You can put
    >these things beside each other and say they are the same or not the same.
    >But you can't compare two memes because they have no substance to compare.
    >The only thing you can compare is the objects or behaviors generated by
    >their use. So the state of the art right now is an undefined meme that
    >brings about a broad range of behavior. Am I wrong?
    Memes that are held by many people may be seen to be the same only if one ignores the context, which one cannot pragmatically do. But the same caveat goes for behavior. A woman suggestively stripping off her clothes has different meanings depending upon if it is on her anniversary for her beloved but lately unromantic husband or on a bar pole for g-string tips. The expected behavioral responses are in each case different.
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    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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