RE: What does the replicating?

Paul Marsden (
Tue, 10 Jun 1997 06:18:33 -0400

Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 06:18:33 -0400
From: Paul Marsden <>
Subject: RE: What does the replicating?
To: "" <>

Message text written by

TP wrote

>I might add one more comment. In several of my postings, I have been
>challenging memetics to define itself in relationship to a known and
>ancient history of philosophy. I just did so again, this time by asking=
>question in ethics. How does memetics explain the origin and spread of
>evil without postulating yet *another* ghost in the machine, this time i=
>the form of a dualist set of Evil Memes, kin, we presume, to the forces =
>darkness variously known as Ahriman, Set, or Mephistopheles?

Ok, memetics is part realist evolutionary functionalism and has its
philosophical roots in Hilary Putman's Mind, Language, and Reality which
was a reply to Skinner's "Problem of Privacy" that Eliminative Materialis=
and Place's Identity theory left largely unaddressed.

The evolutionary part is probably ok with everybody, but note that
evolutionary is not synonymous with Darwinian.

Memetics is realist in that postulates the existence of unobservable
objects, that nevertheless impact upon behaviour (memes, centres of gravi=
etc). It is not dualist in Platonic or Cartesian or any other forms - i=
is monist. (I want to pre-empt any reply Roger Penrose's position in
Shadows of the Mind (and the Emporers..) - Penrose was not advocating
dualism, he was using the Forms argument to make a point about the povert=
of science to explain phenomena, but he explicitly says he believes that
science * will* be able to explain consciousness, presumably, according =
him with his organelles and quantum mechanics.) Nor is memetics idealist=

because it posits an empirical and material world of objects.

Memetics is functionalist because it describes how things functions from =
teleological/intentional stance, not the underlying physical processes. =

Functionalism can be summed up by the soundbite, "the mind is to the brai=
as a computer's software is to the hardware." Of course memes don't
literally want to reproduce as if they were sentient creatures in their o=
right, merely that our interpretation of how they behave is restricted to=

"as if" they were intentional beings.

Paul Marsden
Social Psychology Graduate Research Centre
University of Sussex

Current Research: "The Prince of Xenu and the Church of Scientology - An=

Excursus in Memetic Social Psychology"

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