Re: i-culture and m-culture. Encoded information

Mario Vaneechoutte (
Sat, 08 Feb 1997 08:30:47 -0800

Message-Id: <>
Date: Sat, 08 Feb 1997 08:30:47 -0800
From: Mario Vaneechoutte <>
Subject: Re: i-culture and m-culture. Encoded information

Hans-Cees Speel wrote:

> In my new paper I wrote this about it:
> -----------------------------------
> The distinction between replicators and interactors is connected to the
> division of code and matter (Pattee, 1977). Code can be replicated, but more
> importantly, also interpretated. The interpretation takes place by means of
> an interpretation system, and yields matter. The difference between matter and
> code is that code is in a rate-independend dynamical mode, while matter is in
> a rate-dependent dynamical mode. When a structural entitie crosses this
> matter-code barrier it is 'transduced' (Pattee, 1977). In biology the
> interpretation system is the cell mechanism, that translates (while also
> tranducing) specific parts of DNA at a certain time to enzymes. This
> theoretical theme is in the end also related to the genotype-phenotype
> distinction of course, since genotype is code, and phenotype is matter. Code
> has no meaning separated from a translation system. Pattee describes for
> instance that the cell gives DNA its meaning.

> I thus hold that in memetic theory memes can be phemotype, and also
> memotype (code and matter, genotype and phenotype)
> You might also want to read Williamson 1992 (natural selection) for
> the difference between code and non-code.

Although I understand what Hans-Cees means with 'code' and 'matter' and
I think I can agree to a large extent with this approach, I think his
usage of the words code (for genotype) and matter (for phenotype) is
rather unfortunate and confusing.
E.g., genes are matter and encoded information together. Phenotypic
behaviour is not matter.

It might be better to speak of (genetic, cultural, ...) information
which is encoded (be it in genes, neuronal connections, sound waves,
printed symbols on paper, ...) and which can be interpreted by living
processes (enzymes, cells and brains). Luc Claeys speaks of the
instantiation of information

Indeed, I think this kind of approach, i.e. looking at biology and
culture from the 'point of view' of information is a highway towards a
unifying theory which encompasses general processes of evolution of
information and which may reveal where useful analogies between genetics
and memetics are to be found.

Mario Vaneechoutte
Laboratory Bacteriology & Virology
Blok A, De Pintelaan 185
University Hospital Ghent
Belgium 9000 Ghent
Tel: +32 9 240 36 92
Fax: +32 9 240 36 59
Editor J. Memetics:
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