Re: Memetics as a tautology. Was: Can economics be studied by

Mario Vaneechoutte (
Tue, 24 Jun 1997 08:15:12 -0700

Message-Id: <>
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 1997 08:15:12 -0700
From: Mario Vaneechoutte <>
Subject: Re: Memetics as a tautology. Was: Can economics be studied by

Timothy Perper/Martha Cornog wrote:
Tim wrote:

> At issue is the suggestion by If Price that memetics offers a "unifying
> paradigm," and I am asking -- through the device of the "final exam in
> memetics" -- what this unifying paradigm actually IS.
> My own view is that human behavior, though complex, does form a coherent
> unity, even -- especially? -- when various contradictions and conflicts
> develop within it. Such a vision requires that we define both "coherent"
> and "unity," but we all have a rough sense of what those terms mean. I am
> asking if, at the moment, memetics promises to let us understand that
> coherent unity.

> Staunch memeticists will reply "Yes, and with time the promise will be
> fulfilled." Rhetorically, that position is invulnerable to ALL criticisms,
> because one can always eliminate problems by pushing their solution off
> into the future.

By the way, this is a good memetic trick.

> I think that memetics -- understood as studying the flow of information and
> related things -- can resolve PART of the puzzle. But tautologies about
> memes get us nowhere -- as I certainly hope my "answers" to the memetics
> final examination demonstrate!

Understood and agreed.

(By the way. Maybe we should be cautious upon mutual agreement as well.
Different people may have the same educational or whatever background
bias. The experience of agreement is another means by which memes
spread: the experience of 'You see, so many others think the same as
well. Therefore, I must be right', forgetting that the others may all be
wrong. It is just one illustration of how emotions and not logic are at
the center of memetics.)

I have suggested some ways to get rid of tautologies previously, but is
there really interest for it? By the way, where is Nick Rose? I am still
expecting a reply on our discussion on topics related to these

Mario Vaneechoutte
Laboratory Bacteriology & Virology
Blok A, De Pintelaan 185
University Hospital Ghent
Belgium 9000 Ghent
Tel: +32 9 240 36 92
Fax: +32 9 240 36 59
Editor J. Memetics:

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