Self as construct

Bill Benzon (
Tue, 10 Jun 1997 20:26:07 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 20:26:07 -0500
From: (Bill Benzon)
Subject: Self as construct

Nick Rose says:

>If 'self' is defined as 'free-will' stuff, then I reject the
>notion that the 'self' can select anything. If 'self' is a
>co-adapted meme complex [and Bill has a point in that we *do*
>need to think about what is the environment for a meme which
>determines it's success] then the 'self' can select memes; memes
>already in situ in the brain are *bound* to bias the acceptance
>and expression of new memes. e.g. the 'meme' "'I' believe that
>faith is good, testing things is bad." will bias the system into
>accepting certain types of memes and rejecting others.
One can certainly think about the self as a social construct which human
being use for a variety of purposes.

A number of years ago a guy (named Gallup I believe) did some very
interesting experiments with macaque monkeys and chimpanzees. He sedated
them and put some orange dye on one ear. Then they were placed in cages
where they could observe themselves in a mirror. After awhile -- and it
might take days -- the chimps would notice that they had a strange orange
spot on one ear and they'd investigate it in the mirror. The macaques
never did that.

Then there is Vicki, one of the first chimps raised among humans. She was
given a stack of photos of people and of chimps. Among the people where
the ones who raised here. Among the chimps was a picture of herself. She
had the task of sorting the photos into 2 piles. She put all the humans in
one pile and all the chimps in another, except one. She put her own photo
in the pile with the humans.

What, if anything, do these observations indicate about the construction of

>Once we reject the notion of 'free-will' selecting memes, then
>the question becomes; what is?

A brain with infinite computing power.

William L. Benzon 201.217.1010
708 Jersey Ave. Apt. 2A
Jersey City, NJ 07302 USA

This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)