Re: what's a meme

t (
Fri, 13 Jun 1997 16:23:25 -0500

From: <>
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 1997 16:23:25 -0500
Subject: Re: what's a meme


bbenzon> its the physical stuff... which is the memes..

cleirig>>Does this view stand up when applied to language?
>Ink patterns on paper are memes, and their cultural phenotypes
>are "the mental things in the brain"?
>How does language emerge on this model...
>phenotype first, for example?

There is only a problem if one assumes 'only memetic' phenotypes exist in
the brain. I see no reason they can't exist in both the brain and the
environment. The important point is they need to be 'physical stuff' in
both places.

In my model, 'brain memes' are the patterns of memory proteins deposited in
brain synapses. I suspect they provide a service analogous to 'linkage
weights' in computational neural networks. 'Artifact memes' are the
patterns of ink spots on paper.

Both 'brain' and 'artifact' memes are much older than human history. The
key thing is that in both cases, they are made of physical stuff. The
vibrations in the air we call 'speech' are not memes, but phenotypes. They
have no physical form. Examples of 'artifact' memes in the animal kingdom
are well described by Bonner (though he doesn't use the term meme himself).

Thus, I can explain language development out of 'mimetic' abilities made
possible by 'brain memes.' These 'brain memes' record sound and provide a
model for sound reproduction (phenotypes). A conceptual leap (unaddressed
here) is required to explain the explosion of linguistic expression in
'artifact memes' beginning 20,000 years ago, but that is a rate of change
problem, not a framework problem. Both 'brain' and 'artifact' memes
existed millions of years ago.


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)