Re: Non Homuncular Memetics

Mark Mills (
Wed, 1 Oct 97 09:51:14 -0000

Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: Non Homuncular Memetics
Date: Wed, 1 Oct 97 09:51:14 -0000
From: Mark Mills <>
To: memetics list <>

Paul wrote,

> The self is nothing more than a centre of
>narrative gravity, a functional shorthand for the meme-complexes that the
>human brain gets infected with through the process of interaction.

The 'infection' idea has always troubled me. To have an 'infection,' it
seems necessary to define an 'uninfected' state. In terms of the human
brain function, an isolated mind (uninfected?) is autistic. The example
of 'feral' children who grow up without human cultural experience comes
to mind.

When one looks closely, the human biology requires culture for successful
survival of the species. For example, paleo-anthropologists can trace
the steadily lengthening 'infant' state in homo evolution. During the
'infant' state, culture is required while maternal duties limit the
mother's activity. Our instinctive acquisition of language skills is
another example of culture and biology linked. There are many other
examples. It is clear that culture has influenced our biology.

Thus, a mind without culture (ie, a developed meme population) is not a
healthy human. The autistic human has limited opportunities biological

If one uses the term 'infection' to mean 'a population out of control,'
the term seems useful. In this sense, 'infection' is a characterization
of dysfunctional memetic activity, not a standard description of the meme
system. I don't sense this usage of the word in your comment.


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