Re: This memetics discussion...

Richard K. Moore (
Sun, 8 Jun 1997 12:26:11 +0100

Date: Sun, 8 Jun 1997 12:26:11 +0100
Message-Id: <v02110102afc04d174d97@[]>
From: (Richard K. Moore)
Subject: Re: This memetics discussion...

I've been watching the list dialog and trying to decide if I want to stick
around. Having a technical background, and a special interest in evolution
and systems, I'm quite drawn to the creative philosophical ideas being
tossed around, and the productive employment of cross-disciplinary

But I'm turned off by what seems to be a constraining narrowness to the
investigation. As many have pointed out, it's not easy to see whether this
new science can be applied effectively to solving problems or answering
questions outside of itself. Is it, so to speak, pure mathematics or
applied mathematics?

I'd like to see something broad enough to talk usefully about propaganda,
cults, mind-control, religion, belief systems, enlightenment, education,
etc. Something which readily factors out the common and distinct elements
of each and brings unity and clarity to a hodge-podge of seemingly
unrelated phenomena.

Memes, it seems to me, are embedded somewhere in the matrix of psychology,
language, and communications. In order to understand the role and
significance of memes, the context of discussion must include an
appropriate characterization of these three domains. We need an agreed
model of each, which is rich enough for the role of memes, within each, to
be understood.

We could then talk meaningfully, for example, about how memes alter
psychological content, which parts of language are and aren't memetic, and
how memes propagate through communication channels.

A cousin concept to memes also intrigues me, and that is viruses. Someone
once defined religion as "a belief-structure virus". Do we need both (and
perhaps other) concepts? Is "virus" already subsumed by "memes"?

Pardon my newbie ignorance.


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