"m-culture" and "i-culture"

Bill Benzon (bbenzon@mindspring.com)
Sat, 7 Jun 1997 14:56:02 -0500

Message-Id: <199706071852.OAA07642@brickbat9.mindspring.com>
Date: Sat, 7 Jun 1997 14:56:02 -0500
To: memetics@mmu.ac.uk
From: bbenzon@mindspring.com (Bill Benzon)
Subject: "m-culture" and "i-culture"

This is in response to Nick Rose, but first I should introduce myself.


I'm Bill Benzon & have been working at cultural evolution for about 2
decades, most of that work outside the memetic "tradition." You can find
some of my work, along with that of the late David Hays, at my website:

In particular, there is a paper on "Culture as an Evolutionary Arena" where
I begin coming to terms with memetics - which I found when looking for a
term to use to refer to the cultural analogue of genes & genotype:


As for "m-culture" and "i-culture" -- yes, I do think some such distinction
needs to be made, and Dawkins did get around to making it (in "The Extended
Phenotype" & perhaps elsewhere). & the orthodox memetic position seems to
be that memes are in the brain ("i-culture") and the Other Thing (there is
no standard term, but H-C Speel has convinced me that "interactor" may be
the best candidate, others talk of "meme vehicle" etc.) is the physical
stuff in the world.

Working outside the memetic tradition, I came to the opposite view. For
me, the memes are the physical stuff while the interactors are what goes on
inside our brains (collectively). So for me what culture is adapting to are
the information-processing capabilities of the brain. It's a strange
position to argue, and I have argued it in an exchange with H-C Speel
(which will be published in The Journal of Social and Evolutionary

In the end, I'm not sure what I think; but the issue needs discussion.

Bill B

William L. Benzon 201.217.1010
708 Jersey Ave. Apt. 2A bbenzon@mindspring.com
Jersey City, NJ 07302 USA http://www.newsavanna.com/wlb/

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