Re: Words and Memes

From: John Croft (
Date: Sun Feb 10 2002 - 14:37:12 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Words and Memes
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    Ted wrote

    > 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 from 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. Only when it starts playing on its own--
    > and continues replaying long after it's begun to
    > annoy me-- does it become a function of memetic

    Ted, have you read Susan Blackmore? From what she
    suggested, I understand, is that intentional culture
    is also a prodyct of the memes. When you have an
    intentional behaviour how do you behalve? You
    "choose" to act in fashion X. Where does this
    "choice" come from? Studies in neurology have in fact
    shown that with many so called "intentions" the motor
    circuits are actived "before" the neocortex
    associative areas where "intentionality" is born. It
    is as if the intention is being created *after* the
    act has already started. Similar findings of where
    intentionality is invented and justified post hoc have
    been shown in the split brain tests where the left
    brain is asked to explain action which originates on
    the right brain. What Blackmore suggests is that
    evolving a belief about intentionality is a great way
    of hastening the spread, reporduction and veracity of
    memes generally.

    > 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

    But "reflexive consciousness" is a mimetic creation
    according to Blackmore. It's self refertial character
    is shown to be an empty set - built around the
    linguistic means of perptuating memes - about self and
    other, identity and being, and so on. It is a created
    construct, constructed from the outside inwards - it
    is not something that you are born with, but is
    created as a result of internalisation of countless
    memeplexes. To establish the veracity of this model,
    look at the cases of the 50 - 60 children over the
    last 500 years that have been fostered to animals.
    They do not seem to evolve such a reflexive
    > 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.

    Are they? Most ideas I have seen are fairly actively
    promulgated. And where does this destinction come
    from in the first place? If I accept it and pass it
    one, doesn't that make it a meme too (another
    reflexive Goidelian loop?). Ultimately autopoesis is
    the result of the operation of such memeplexes.

    Lets just accept that culture is mimetic... full stop.
    Plain and simple.



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