Re: Words and memes

From: Joe Dees (
Date: Mon Feb 04 2002 - 23:59:46 GMT

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    From: "Joe Dees" <>
    Subject: Re: Words and memes
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    > "Dace" <> <> Re: Words and memesDate: Mon, 4 Feb 2002 12:16:06 -0800
    >> >From: John Croft
    >> >
    >> > > Thus Ted wrote
    >> > > > >In order for this to occur, the words must involve
    >> > > > >some kind of interpretation ("bacon is evil") and
    >> > > > >not a mere statement of fact ("bacon is in the
    >> > > > >fridge"). If it's merely factual, the repetition
    >> > > > >of the statement can be accounted for according to
    >> > > > >normal, intentional use of language.
    >> > >
    >> > > and Keith replied
    >> > > > Good way to put it. You can't call everything a
    >> > > > meme or it becomes a useless word.
    >> > >
    >> > > Again I would disagree with you both here. Everything
    >> > > that is culturally duplicated and diseminated is a
    >> > > meme. (Not just statements with interpretation - for
    >> > > instance - a sung melody is a meme, a gesture (eg
    >> > > shaking hands in greeting) is a meme, washing potatoes
    >> > > in the sea before eating them is a meme. It is the
    >> > > fact of duplication that makes it mimetic. If not
    >> > > duplicated, but learned individually with every
    >> > > generation, or if "instinctual" and passed genetically
    >> > > then it is not a meme. "Fridges", "bacon" and putting
    >> > > "bacon" into "fridges" are all mimentic, specific to
    >> > > one culture, and all "seek" replication.
    >> >
    >> >Culture can be divided into intentional and memetic. While the "atoms
    >> >of culture" are always taking on a life of their own-- far beyond the
    >> >intentions of their creators-- we are continually regenerating culture
    >> >the foundation. Even if a particular tune is known to be "catchy," if I
    >> >consciously decide to hum it, it's a function of intentional culture.
    >> >when it starts playing on its own-- and continues replaying long after
    >> >begun to annoy me-- does it become a function of memetic culture.
    >> >
    >> >I agree that it's important to distinguish between what is memetic and
    >> >what is genetic. But it's also important to distinguish between what is
    >> >memetic and what is intentional. In order for the term to be meaningful,
    >> >"meme" must be delineated on both sides, from biology and from
    >> >reflexive consciousness.
    >> >
    >> >The key issue is whether the unit of culture is self-replicated or
    >> >intentionally replicated by a conscious agent. Memes are active. Ideas
    >> >are passive.
    >> >
    >> >Ted
    >> I would be curious to see an example of a 'meme' and an example of an
    >> 'idea' that will display the distinction you are trying to make.
    >> Ray Recchia
    >If we think of a tune as a musical idea, then the tune that gets "stuck in
    >your head" is a nice example of an idea that turns memetic. The Internet
    >began as an idea, hatched by the Defense Department's advanced research
    >projects division, and then became a meme as it caught on. No one has to
    >reflect anymore on what the Internet is and what its value is. We've long
    >since reached the point at which this idea propagates unreflectively. It's
    >on our minds whether we want it there or not.
    >If "meme" is taken to be equivalent to "idea," then it becomes culturally
    >universalized and ceases to have meaning. On the other hand, if "meme" is
    >equated with "learned behavior," then it becomes biologically universalized
    >and also ceases to have meaning. Any term that can be collapsed into
    >another term is just an abstraction. It has no existence outside of the
    >word we've made up for it.
    I agree with this; this is why memes involve both ideation and action.
    >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)

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    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)

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