noogenetics vs. memetics

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Sun Feb 10 2002 - 16:11:48 GMT

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    Subject: noogenetics vs. memetics
    Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 11:11:48 -0500
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    I tried sending a longer posting earlier but it appears to have vanished in
    the ether. I'll start off with a very basic quote from Julian Huxley's
    "Man's Place and Role in Nature" and augment it later, as time allows. I
    could grow old and gray waiting for Wilkins to re-surface ;-)

    In his essay "Man's Place and Role in Nature" Julian Huxley says:

    (bq) "I would accordingly suggest the term *noetic system* or *noosystem* to
    denote the complex of the shareable and transmissible activities and
    products of human mind, the pattern thought and science, law and morality,
    art and ritual, which forms the basis of human society. These noetic
    patterns will differ from culture to culture, and often within a single
    culture. The study of how they are transmitted and how they change and
    evolve in time should be the central quest of the sciences of man: we might
    call it *noogenetics*" (eq)

    Some might ask about replication and replicators. Well Huxley alludes to
    this earlier in his essay saying:

    (bq) "Biological evolution depends on natural selection, which was made
    possible when matter became capable of self-reproduction and self-variation.
    Psycho-social or cultural evolution depends on cumulative tradition, which
    was made possible when mind and its products became capable of
    self-reproduction and self-variation." (eq)

    Is this a cultural replicator theory Huxley's proposing? Did Huxley scoop
    Dawkins by years. There's more to Huxley's discussions than these quote
    demonstrate. In a subsequent essay "Evolution, Cultural and Biological"
    Huxley utilizes the pregnant term "mentifact". More on this later...


    Julian Huxley. 1957. Knowledge, Morality, & Destiny (original title: New
    Bottles for New Wine). Mentor Book, New American Library. New York

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