Re: Meaning generation

Mark Mills (mmmills@OnRamp.NET)
Fri, 25 Jul 97 01:39:57 -0000

Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: Meaning generation
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 97 01:39:57 -0000
From: Mark Mills <mmmills@OnRamp.NET>
To: memetics list <>


>It's that--by definition-- behaviors (or concepts!) that are
>genetically encoded in the organism are not memes.

Hm. The 'by definition' argument. I guess that requires me to request
your definition and an idea of why you think it useful.

>They [behaviors (or concepts!)]replicate genetically, just like
>other physical traits, not by imitation or communication.
>There's no need to create a new science to deal with these
>phenomena--ethology and genetics are already available.

We have a science called neurology, but our nervous system is a genetic
We have a science called cardiology, but our heart's behavior is a
genetic inheritance.

I don't think it follows that the product of genetic processes is the
focus of genetic study.

My Webster's dictionary defines 'gene' to mean 'a unit of a chromosome
that determines the character and activities of cells and transmits
inherited traints.' I suspect some here would argue that the word
'determines' in the definition reflects a weak understanding of DNA
involvement in cellular processes, but I continue to think it very useful
to tie genetics to chromosomes. The substrate is a useful way to focus
attention and study.

Thus genetics involves the study of DNA sequences, memetics involves the
study of neural sequences.

Today, I heard on the radio that scientists had inserted a human gene
into a cloned sheep embryo. The announcer still called the inserted hunk
of DNA a gene. It didn't matter that it was placed in the sheep by human
intent. It remained a gene.

I doubt anyone will ever be capable of distinguishing where 'inherited'
sequences stop and 'learned' sequences start. Additionally, it can be
argued that our brain's growth during maturation is an extension of
embryological cellular differentiation correlated with hormones and shape
factors (more code) built into the egg. If this is true, inherited codes
in the brain networks will have almost nothing to do with genetics,


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