Re: The origin of culture, memetics and science. Was: Is memetics

Mario Vaneechoutte (
Wed, 25 Jun 1997 09:01:18 -0700

Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 1997 09:01:18 -0700
From: Mario Vaneechoutte <>
Subject: Re: The origin of culture, memetics and science. Was: Is memetics

Mark Mills wrote:

> >I'd say memetics starts where spoken language starts
> >and that science starts very soon after written - printed
> >language starts. As simple as that.

> Interesting.
> I'd say memetics starts with simple multicellular organisms exhibiting
> neurological activity, hundreds of millions of years ago.

Well, of course it is a matter of terminology. I'd say that the origin
of culture is that far back. And that human culture is that kind of
culture you get when also words come in, and as such coincides with the
area of memetics. So, I basically would not consider all kinds of habits
(like how you wear your clothes) which spread because of mimicking
behaviour as memetic. Animals do that as well, think of bird song
I would define culture in general as the possibility of multicellular
colonies to influence each others' behaviour by means of nonchemically
transmitted information. Human culture than adds the possibility to
influence other peoples' behaviour by means of words. Words can be
considered as encoded information which needs decoding before it takes
effect (gets meaning), unlike the perception of behaviour of others
which has a direct effect on how you behave (e.g. a cry warning for
danger has immediate effect, the perception of an attractive potential
sex partner has immediate effect,...).

The directness of environmental stimuli other than words may be obscured
since words come in quickly and interfere. We are biased by word usage.


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