Re: ply to Grant

From: Joe Dees (
Date: Tue Feb 05 2002 - 01:10:15 GMT

  • Next message: Joe Dees: "Re: Abstractism"

    Received: by id BAA15085 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Tue, 5 Feb 2002 01:15:57 GMT
    Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2002 17:10:15 -0800
    Message-Id: <>
    Content-Type: text/plain
    Content-Disposition: inline
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: binary
    X-Mailer: MIME-tools 4.104 (Entity 4.116)
    X-Originating-Ip: []
    From: "Joe Dees" <>
    Subject: Re: ply to Grant
    Precedence: bulk

    ('binary' encoding is not supported, stored as-is)

    >Date: Mon, 04 Feb 2002 16:22:25 +1100
    > Jeremy Bradley <> Re: ply to GrantReply-To:
    >At 07:45 AM 3/02/02 -0800, you wrote:
    >>>Subject: Re: ply to Grant
    >>>Date: Sun, 03 Feb 2002 22:36:55 +1100
    >>>At 07:52 AM 14/01/02 -0800, Grant wrote:
    >The problem we are having is
    >how to separate memes from things that are not memes. In other words, the
    >definition of a meme. Everyone wants to draw the line in a different place
    >and include things other people won't accept. Is a meme an idea? Is it
    >behavior? Is it something you can name? Or is it all of these?
    >Hi Grant
    >I have cut up your post so as to answer its various parts
    >My definition of a meme dates back to Dawkins' original concept that a meme
    >is to a culture what a gene is to a biological organism. Therefore, if a
    >gene is a codified strand which exists within every cell of an organism,
    >then a meme is a code which exists within every unit of a culture. As a
    >gene enables the recognition of appropriate cells to the body of that
    >organism, a meme enables the recognition (within a culture) of artefacts
    >which are then perceived as valid or invalid to that culture. Acceptance or
    >rejection is therefore predicated by the presence, or absence, of
    >sufficient memetic 'switches'. Thoughts, activities, behaviours, ethics and
    >other artefacts can only become infectious if they either contain enough of
    >the relevant cultural meme/code, or if they can deceive the cultural body
    >into perceiving/believing that they do.
    This depends upon how you define culture; if I mention the Sicilian defence, very few nonchessplayers will understand to what the term refers. But if we go this way, we end up with the circular and useless definition that a meme is shared by all members of a culture and a culture is a group that shares at least one meme.
    >Snip…………..Grant wrote
    >Mostly, the people who concern themselves with this problem are
    >reductionists. They are searching for the smallest unit from which the
    >whole of culture is created. They want to use this dichotomy to create a
    >formulaic method of predicting how memes are created and propagated. Is the
    >idea you borrow and use really a meme? Or is it just the original idea we
    >can call a meme?
    >My reply
    >A geneticist is not accused of reductionism because they study "the
    >smallest unit" from which the organism is created. A gene is what it is,
    >and a meme is what it is. They are both small but potent.
    Right now, I would have to say that, linguistically, words and morphemes are the smallest units (excluding letters, which are all taught as a unit, the alphabet), because they are the smallest units between which one may distinguish meaning differences.
    >Snip…………..Grant wrote
    >What we all seem to agree on, though, is that the culture we have built
    >around us to support us was created in bits and pieces that emerged into
    >something greater than the sum of its parts. It evolved as the new parts
    >replaced old ones and the old provided the material from which to create
    >what never existed before. Methods and materials were created that changed
    >how we organize ourselves and the kinds of dwellings we live in, how we get
    >from place to place, and the kinds of food we eat as well as the utensils we
    >use in the process. All of civilization is a result of this memetic
    >evolution and we want to understand it so we can use it, just like we use
    >everything else in our environment. We think we won't be able to do this
    >until we understand exactly where to draw the line.
    >That, at any rate, is my take on the situation.
    >My reply
    >I agree with most of what you say here Grant with the exception of your use
    >of the singular "civilisation". There are many civilisations and some of
    >them have more respect for the environment than we Westerners do. Also, as
    >a narratologist, I question whether cultures evolve or are the result of
    >conscious introductions, exclusions and re-defining of cultural elements.
    >For example, a successful propaganda campaign must be rooted in the
    >cultural values (ie contain the meme code) but is able to engineer a change
    >in those values so that the change is accepted by the cultural body as the
    >If we "built our culture around us" as you suggest, then it is engineered
    >rather than evolved. As Aaron wrote recently the mastery of memetic
    >manipulation could be "worth billions", or it may just preserve something
    >for our children's children.
    >This is an important field of research whatever your "take on it" is.
    >==============================================================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)

    Looking for a book? Want a deal? No problem AddALL! compares book price at 41 online stores.

    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 Feb 05 2002 - 02:04:23 GMT