Re: Words and Memes

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Thu Feb 14 2002 - 03:26:19 GMT

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    Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 22:26:19 -0500
    From: Keith Henson <>
    Subject: Re: Words and Memes
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    At 05:58 PM 13/02/02 -0800, Dace wrote:
    >From: Philip Jonkers
    > >
    > > As far as I know Blackmore only the denies the reality of the self as an
    > > inner homunculi or `soul'. She conceives the self as a (huge) collection
    > > of memes and calls it therefore appropriately the `self-plex'.

    Minsky says the same thing in Society of Mind. He talks about self
    consciousness being an emergent property of a vast number of mental
    "agents.' A lot of the agents are programmed by memes, the rest by the
    physical world around us as we grow up.

    >It's one thing to deny the existence of a little person working the controls
    >of the brain or an immortal soul that migrates from body to body. It's
    >quite another to define the self out of existence altogether. Blackmore
    >explains our alleged hallucination of self-existence by claiming that the
    >memes which promote this illusion have a competitive advantage over other
    >memes. What she can't explain is who or what is fooled by this illusion.

    It is probably a combination of memes and genes. You can see that an
    organism which considered itself a whole is a lot more likely to survive
    and reproduce.

    >I am not a collection of replicating ideas. I am singular and whole. A
    >self-plex is not a true self. It's a fancy name for ego. Like Dennett,
    >Blackmore confuses the self with our ingrained self-image.

    Try a bit of a thought experiment. What would you be like without
    memes? You would be much like a computer with the rudiments of an
    operating system but nothing more. I don't think it would be much of an

    > > In addition,
    > > if anything she does consider the self-nature of memes as she focusses
    > > on the interpretation of the meme's eye view in the Meme-Machine. She
    > > even does it to such extent that she leaves the impression of underrating
    > > the necessary mechanism of memes having to persuade the hosts for
    > > adoption.
    > >
    > > Perhaps you might want to read her book in full Ted, you may find that it
    > > more on a par with your view than you currently believe.
    >Sounds like she attributes self-nature to memes but not to people. In my
    >view, memetics is all about the struggle between reflective human
    >self-replicators and unreflective memetic self-replicators. Not that I
    >wouldn't enjoy her book, of course.

    I don't understand this conflict business. Humans are as adapted to load
    and run memes as computers are to load and run software. Software is
    useless without hardware and vice versa. In our mental lives we are self
    booting, self programming, start from a single cell organisms. And what we
    can load depends to high extent on what we have loaded earlier. As an
    example, you won't get anywhere with higher mathematics without a
    foundation clear down to arithmetic, and you need a foundation of physical
    concepts you learn as a small child such as counting and quantity even
    before you get to arithmetic.


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