Date: Thu, 05 Jun 1997 11:23:36 +0100
From: Peter Bentley <P.Bentley@cs.ucl.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: memes and cultural evolution -Reply
Hardman DK wrote:
> Perhaps we can consider the answer to these questions by analogy with
> gene. When is a gene extinct? DNA can be retrieved not just from dead
> organisms, but extinct ones. In the latter case, genes which no longer
> play any part in the world nonetheless exist in a physical sense. In
> principle - the Jurassic Park scenario - these genes could be pressed
> into service to do their original job.
Biologists usually use the word 'extinct' when referring to creatures,
phenotypes, not separate genes. Hence, a Dodo is extinct, but it's
is perfectly preserved in the museum exibits.
Perhaps this is why everyone was having trouble defining whether a meme
is extinct or not.
Thus, a language not in use any more could be described as being
if a complete written record of it exists.
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