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Hi, Rod & welcome to the list. Cheers...
I've never used one of these discussion lists before so please excuse me if
I've inadvertently breached any etiquette or technical issues.
I was interested by the "There is bacon in the fridge" dialogue. The topic
of whether the transfer of simple knowledge between people is memetic has
been bothering me. Susan Blackmore sees imitation as fundamental in the
definition of a meme, i.e. an individual displays a behaviour that is
adopted by another individual. Is there imitation in the transfer of
She also names ideas, catch-phrases and the like which are non-behavioral
but which can be imitated (verbal imitation) nonetheless. To imitate means
this does not necessarily have to be limited to behavioral imitation.
Consider a university student. If the student responds to the enthusiasm
that a tutor displays for a subject and imitates that enthusiasm few here
would contest that this is memetic, the fact that the student gains
knowledge of that subject is almost irrelevant. On the other hand, consider
a tutor who unenthusiastically drums knowledge into a student, without that
student adopting any of her tutor's behaviour, where is the imitation?
Come on please. It is memetic. I contend it is at least. Knowledge has been
passed on, so memes have been passed on.
Aaron Lynch, however, defines a meme as "A memory item, or portion of an
organism's neurally-stored information. whose instantiation depended
critically on causation by prior instantiation of the same memory item in
one or more organism's nervous systems." In this sense then, the propagation
of knowledge is memetic.
I don't think anyone else has done as much as Lynch in trying to establish a
concise definition of meme, but I think that most people would agree that
they personally hold a "gut feeling" as to what is and isn't a meme, hence
the bacon debate.
Now you insult me. Why don't you go back on the list and retrieve my very
concise def. of the meme (recursive def.).
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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