Re: Words and memes

From: Joe Dees (
Date: Wed Feb 06 2002 - 07:01:13 GMT

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    > "Dace" <> <> Re: Words and memesDate: Tue, 5 Feb 2002 12:08:08 -0800
    >> Hey Ted
    >> Thanks for the clarification. It is an interesting distinction but I see
    >> it as one that would cause more confusion than is necessary. Suppose
    >> someone goes back and relearns the underlying processes behind the
    >> meme and then chooses to consciously repropagate what had since
    >> become a meme, would it then loose its memetic quality?
    >Something similar to this is happening all the time, and it's why children
    >ask so many annoying questions. Children consciously engage the cultural
    >verities that, for most of us, proceed on automatic. With each new
    >generation culture is regenerated from the ground up. Memes transform back
    >into ideas in the minds of children, and then, as the children grow up,
    >revert once more to memes. And children don't have a monopoly on this
    >process. Philosophy is all about going back and relearning the basics, not
    >so as to relaunch the same old memes, but to correct the underlying errors
    >in our thinking.
    >> Similarly suppose that some people were
    >> 'intentionally' propagating the idea and others were just passing it
    >> along without thinking would it be a meme or not? Since acquisition of
    >> any idea requires some mental processes where could we draw a line
    >> that we distinguish for data gathering purposes? Wouldn't we have to
    >> ask everyone who passed the idea along whether they were acting
    >> 'intentionally'? And isn't the term 'intentional' going to be subject to
    >> numerous interpretations?
    >There's no definitive line between intentional and memetic culture. Between
    >an ideal (nonexistent) intentionality and an equally ideal mindlessness,
    >culture is on a continuum. The less we feel we have to reflect on an idea
    >in order to believe it, the more memetic it's become. Without this tendency
    >for ideas to become culturally ingrained, we could never have passed beyond
    >the most primitive stage of culture. Memes are essential to cultural
    >evolution because they enable us to set aside the most basic stuff and
    >advance into greater complexity. It's no different than habits of mind
    >freeing up consciousness to move on to more interesting things.
    This is an interesting point; the idea is that the more successful configuration memes evolve into, the more routine and automatic their adoption and distribution becomes. Another possible distinction (but one with problems) is that thise things we are creating or in the process of learning are ideas; those things that we think we already know and therefore assume are memes. the problem arises when one realizes that this position entails that the selfsame meaninf can be an idea in one mind and a meme in another, and for this reason I have great difficulty seeing how a distinction between ideas and memes could be operationalized.

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