Re: Memes, territory and odors

Dr I Price (
Sun, 22 Jun 1997 04:35:59 -0400

Date: Sun, 22 Jun 1997 04:35:59 -0400
From: Dr I Price <>
Subject: Re: Memes, territory and odors
To: "" <>


>In the human domain, examples of marking without genetic involvement are=

easy to find.

Is that what you are asking?<

No I was thinking of actual territory marking by 'odors' secretion/
excretion of one kind or another and checking whether you were calling it=

memetic. I think you have clarified the point.

> Thus, the actual =

expression of territorial linguistic behavior is entirely cultural but =

stands upon a genetic foundation. >

Agreed completely =

>As to wolves and cats, there is probably a higher level of genetic =

involvement in marking activities, but I doubt it varies from the human =

linguist model. Mammalian infants and mothers do not identify =

themselves based on an ability to genetically recognize the sight or =

smell of the other. The reality of 'identification' is sight and smell =

memorization. All mammalian mothers can be easily mislead into caring =

for the wrong child. A basic skill that is missing in wolves, cats and =

other mammals is a highly developed sound mimicry talent.>

Agreed again, so when you say in the last part of the post

> IP I use replicator in what I understand to be the Dawkins sense - =

>an entity with an inbuilt tendency to seek to make copies =

>of itself in other hosts. =

MM That sounds fine to me, but only covers a part of Darkin's proposal. =

You have avoided Dawkin's allusion to 'genetics' and 'genes.' These are =

important aspects of his proposal for the construct 'meme.' He is =

suggesting that cultural evolution has an alternative physical code =

substrate for stabilizing the replication processes. Genes are units of =

code substrate (DNA) stabilizing biological replication. Thus, the =

construct 'meme' should refer to an alternative physical code substrate =

stabilizing replication of cultural entities. Like genes, memes should =

be available for physical examination.>>>>

I am ready to question the logic. Given that genes [or genes and memes - =
don't want to divert into hominid evolution] have evolved the mimicry
ability you mention and whatever the brain structure is that goes along
with it, then why should replicators not escape the need for a physical
code substrate. If the
'meme as idea' can induce its host to provide physical substrate through
either a neuronal patterning somewhere in a head, or through language and=

artefacts in the outside world it could be considered to have evolved a
very neat trick in replicator possibility space.

I suspect that, just as genetics has reached its own language to
distinguish different aspects of the genetic process [chromsomes alleles
and the like] memetics will need its own language to distinguish

meme as 'idea/belief/ paradigm etc'
meme as neuronal pattern
meme as artefact [either a lingustic artefact,- taking language i=
a very broad sense to include other forms of communication like=

music, sex, or body language- or a cullural artefact]

Rather than going on discussing which of these is 'the meme' can we
recognise that each stage or state is part of the meme replication proces=
Can we even develop an agreed terminology which distinguishes the differe=

If Price

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