Re: Aristotle was a Memetician (and would have defended it)

Paul Marsden (
Tue, 10 Jun 1997 07:58:42 -0400

Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 07:58:42 -0400
From: Paul Marsden <>
Subject: Re: Aristotle was a Memetician (and would have defended it)
To: "" <>

Message text written by

William L. Benzon
>I was trained as a literary theorist and moved to cognitive science
because I wanted something
>with more intellectual rigor. Now I find an aweful lot of whats done in=

>the name of memetics looking like good old literary criticism & rhetoric=
>There is terminological aspiration to science, but memetic analyses seem=

>like lit crit under different terms. Why do astrology when astronomy is

Because the medium for meme infection is often discourse, then it is
inevitable that many of the themes coming out of lit criticism and rhetor=
appear in memetics, just as will themes from philosophy, AI, biology,
cognitive science etc also appear, but this doesn't mean that memetics is=

any less valid. The analogy to astrology I think is unfair and perhaps t=
wrong way round): The philosophical foundations of memetics are relativel=
secure in a functionalist theory of mind, and the gene/virus analogies ha=
already demonstrated that they offer a viable alternative to homuncular =

theories of behaviour. Lit Criticism, except in the radical constructivi=
of discorse analysis) posits authors behind texts, who you endow with all=

sots of supernatural powers, intention, meaning, freewill etc. Memetics
offers an alternative non-homuncular understanding of the human condition=

that doesn't rely on ghosts rattling about in your brain. =

Paul Marsden
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