Wilson on memes

From: Keith Henson (hkhenson@cogeco.ca)
Date: Fri Feb 15 2002 - 23:46:55 GMT

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    Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 18:46:55 -0500
    To: memetics@mmu.ac.uk
    From: Keith Henson <hkhenson@cogeco.ca>
    Subject: Wilson on memes
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    At 10:57 PM 14/02/02 -0800, Grant wrote:
    >As a point of note, E. O. Wilson says in Consilience, "The definition of
    >meme I suggest is nevertheless more focused and somewhat different from
    >that of Dawkins. It is the one posed by the theoretical biologist Charles
    >J. Lumsden and myself in 1981, when we outlined the first full theory of
    >gene-culture coevolution. We recommended that the unit of culture -- now
    >called meme -- be the same as the node of semantic memory and its
    >correlates in brain activity. The level of the node, whether concept (the
    >simplest recognizable unit), proposition, or schema, determines the
    >complexity of the idea, behavior, or artifact that it helps to sustain in
    >the culture at large." Chapter 7, From Genes to Culture.
    >In other words, E. O. Wilson is just one more voice in the hunt for a
    >clear definition of the meme.

    Recast from genes to memes, this is really close to what Dawkins said in
    his hunt for a definition of what a gene is in Extended Phenotype.

    I don't see what Wilson says as being inconsistent with the generally
    accepted understanding people have of memes.

    Personally I think that attempts to give exact definitions are a waste of
    time. If you get to the stage of modeling or even thought experiments, it
    is clear from the model or the math what you are doing.


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