Re: Selfish memes ?

From: Joe Dees (
Date: Tue Feb 05 2002 - 02:52:46 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Selfish memes ?
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    >Date: Tue, 5 Feb 2002 12:16:27 +1100
    > Re: Selfish memes ? John Wilkins <>
    >On Tuesday, February 5, 2002, at 11:52 AM, Joe Dees wrote:
    >> Memes simply cannot be selfish because they are not self-reflective,
    >> i.e. they cannot say to themselves "I'd better take this action in my
    >> own self-interest". Memes do not possess intention. They simply
    >> mutate, that is, they are intentionally or inadvertantly mutated by us,
    >> their hosts, and the mutations that are better at both hooking into the
    >> cognitive environments of others and penetrating others' existing
    >> memetic filters disproportionately replicate.
    >The point of the "selfish gene/meme" metaphor is that we can model the
    >behavior/dynamics of these things *as if* they were rationally
    >self-interest agents. We can also model economic behavior that way, or
    >international relations, but nobody thinks that economic agents really
    >*are* rational, and as for international diplomacy... well.
    >This is because game theory, which is the branch of mathematics used by
    >Maynard Smith to mathematise selection processes in evolution, was
    >developed to deal with, oddly, economic behaviors and international
    >diplomacy, and it uses the rational egoist as the "ideal agent" from
    >which to begin so that "irrational" behaviors can be identified. But it
    >is not to say that people are either rational or egoistic, nor is it to
    >say that genes or memes are somehow reflective agents. It's just that
    >the maths works.
    The 'intentional stance' model does indeed work in the arenas you mentioned; the classic masterwork is THEORY OF GAMES AND ECONOMIC BEHAVIOR by Von Neumann and Morgenstern.
    Economics is no more than the synthesis of existentialism ( people are economically responsible for the consequences of their own market decisions), ethical egotism (people will always act in their own perceived economic self-interest) and the lack of omniscience of the agents (so that they always are making their decisions on the basis of incomplete information - and herein lies the risk).
    >John S Wilkins
    >Head, Communication Services
    >The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
    >Parkville, Victoria, Australia
    >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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