Re: Words and Memes

From: Dace (
Date: Mon Feb 11 2002 - 04:02:50 GMT

  • Next message: Dace: "Re: Words and Memes"

    Received: by id EAA08565 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Mon, 11 Feb 2002 04:07:20 GMT
    Message-ID: <003701c1b2b0$fa01e160$8086b2d1@teddace>
    From: "Dace" <>
    To: <>
    References: <>
    Subject: Re: Words and Memes
    Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 20:02:50 -0800
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
    X-Priority: 3
    X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
    X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 5.50.4133.2400
    X-Mimeole: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V5.50.4133.2400
    Precedence: bulk


    > > 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
    > culture.
    > Ted, have you read Susan Blackmore?

    I read the introduction to The Meme Machine after Philip posted it. I'm
    well aware that she follows Dennett in denying the reality of the self. So
    it's no wonder she fails to recognize the self-nature of memes. Blackmore
    misses the main narrative of memetics, which concerns the shifting of
    authority from human consciousness to the ideas we create. Ideas ordinarily
    have no self-nature but replicate from mind to mind according to our
    intentional interactions with each other. They become memes only when they
    begin replicating under their own authority.

    > 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.

    Intentions are born in the conscious mind. That the prefrontal lobe
    facilitates associative thinking doesn't mean it has a monopoly on
    consciousness. Our intentions can manifest anywhere in the brain, including
    the motor cortex, without first having to notify the prefrontal lobe.

    > What Blackmore suggests is that
    > evolving a belief about intentionality is a great way
    > of hastening the spread, reporduction and veracity of
    > memes generally.

    Did we intentionally create the "myth" of intentional thinking, or was it
    purely by accident? The existence of intention isn't based on a belief. We
    know it like we know ourselves. We know it directly and have no need for
    proof nor any reason to entertain a supposed disproof.

    > > 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 consciousness.
    > But "reflexive consciousness" is a mimetic creation
    > according to Blackmore.

    In other words, the self is an illusion. Which leads to the question, who
    created this illusion? Who, precisely, is hallucinating the hallucination?

    > 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.

    It's the ego, not the self, that's a product of our imagination. The ego is
    a cultural artifact related to the development of language. It's the
    self-image that corresponds to the word "me" or "I," the original image
    buried at the base of the mind. Dennett points out that he can have many
    self-images, such as Dennett the professor or Dennett the father or Dennett
    the farmer, and that none of these images are real. He takes this to mean
    that he himself isn't real, as if he were nothing but his ingrained image of
    himself. Yes, the ego is unreal, but the self is alive and well.

    > 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
    > consciousness.

    It seems that human (mental) self-existence doesn't emerge from animal
    (somatic) self-existence without the provision of social interaction. Much
    like the fact that a seed won't germinate without water and light. Doesn't
    mean the form of the flower is contained in the water and light.

    > > 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?).

    When one person replicates an idea in the mind of someone else, it's just
    simple communication. No need to invoke some mysterious concept of "memes."
    We only need to a new word for it when the idea starts replicating itself.

    > Ultimately autopoesis is
    > the result of the operation of such memeplexes.
    > Lets just accept that culture is mimetic... full stop.
    > Plain and simple.

    This eliminates the very notion of human creativity.


    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)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Feb 11 2002 - 04:25:40 GMT