Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id LAA14106 (8.6.9/5.3[ref firstname.lastname@example.org] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from email@example.com); Tue, 12 Feb 2002 11:13:27 GMT Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 11:08:23 +0000 (GMT) From: John Croft <email@example.com> Subject: Memes and Emergent Properties To: firstname.lastname@example.org In-Reply-To: <200202120314.DAA12066@alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1 Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit Sender: email@example.com Precedence: bulk Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been reading up on emergent properties, and
wonder whether the conception of Emergence applies to
memes. Emergence is being used increasingly in a
number of fields. For example - one can anaylse the
behaviour of a flock of birds with a great degree of
predictability on the basis of a few simple equations,
independent of the physiology and behaviour of any
specific species. Other collective behaviours (eg a
school of fish, the variety of trees in an ecosystem,
or it would appear, the quantum nature of existence
itself, all have aspects of emergence. Emergence or
"entellechy" occurs in systemic organised structures
that have a great degree of independence from initial
conditions. Emergence is also increasingly being used
in embryology where it seems to be the way in which a
number of features can be established using chemical
gradients (for example segmented structures). The
emergence of an "individual", whether me or you, or
the extended kind of individuals one finds in social
insects - in which the hive is a single individual -
would seem to be a classic case of emergence. Wasn't
it von Bertalanfy himself who spoke of entellechy
within acorns that allowed them to develop as oaks?
Looking at the way large numbers of memes interact
with other memes would seem to be the classic
conditions for the appearance of emergent phenomenon.
In fact I would think that a culture is an emergent
property of memes. It would explain why one can still
meaningfully talk of cultures without a reference to
mimetics at all.
Looking at the replication of memes, mimetic systems
which accumulate memes are likely to be selected for
as it contributes to the perpetuation of all memes.
Thus a city with a wide divergence of craft
specialists, including the appearance of a "cultured"
leisured upper class, when conditions permit, would be
selected for over the simpler tribal organisation
found in hunter gatherer or nomadic pastoral society.
The accumulation of people in a city, of adherents in
a faith, or of profits in a corporation create systems
of positive feedback loops that eventually run into
previously determined limits. Sustainability then
becomes a question of negative feedback loops, the
avoidance of overshoot and collapse "catastrophistic"
structures. (Thom's work on catastrophes as ruptures
in a topological surface is relevant here).
Interested in your thoughts
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