Re: Inherited memes = inherited predispositions?

Ton Maas (
Wed, 30 Jul 1997 07:38:31 +0200

Message-Id: <v03102807b0047a9acf54@[]>
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Date: Wed, 30 Jul 1997 07:38:31 +0200
From: Ton Maas <>
Subject: Re: Inherited memes = inherited predispositions?


Yes, I do find echoes of my own comments in yours :-)

>Mendel didn't use the word 'gene.' Instead, he used the word trait.
>Darwin used words like 'inheritance' and 'variation,' he didn't use the
>word 'gene.' Why was 'gene' superior to 'trait,' 'inheritance' or

BTW You probably all know who coined the term "gene"... Twas William
Bateson, the father of my "beloved" Gregory :-)

>So, I think this idea of a 'unit' is clearly desired. That leaves two
>questions, where is it and how does one measure it. From my perspective,
>it is easy to answer the 'what' question, it is pattern laid down on the
>neural network (the substrate). The more difficult question is 'how do we
>measure it'? or 'how do we observe the smallest indivisible whole'?

According to one of (G.) Bateson's Eternal Verities "Pattern is never
determined by quantity", implying that pattern is not quantity but quality
and therefore impossible to measure.

>It is useful to remember that genes are not contiguous sections of DNA.
>There are interuptions in sequences, timing issues and probably flexture
>factors that come into play. Seeing that this is entirely to complex to
>decode semantically, scientists define genes by linking protein creation
>to chunks of chromosome. Proteins are the mirror image of a gene and vise

Are you saying that those scientists are trying to reduce pattern to
structure (which is quantitative and measurable)? This would be very common
scientific behaviour, but dangerous behaviour as well. Let me offer yet
another analogy. Consider the case of medical science, where a lot of
effort is put into finding cures for diseases. And when the right mixture
of bugs or chemicals has been discovered, everybody moves on to the next
problem. That's why nobody is interested any longer in the systemic
mysteries of, say, polio and that's why medical science almost by
definition will never yield systemic insight into the "wisdom of the body"
- as Cannon so aptly put it. Medical science only generates a bag of
tricks, precisely because of its piecemeal approach to symptoms and


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