Re: Non Homuncular Memetics

Robert G. Grimes (
Wed, 01 Oct 1997 12:38:56 -0400

Date: Wed, 01 Oct 1997 12:38:56 -0400
From: "Robert G. Grimes" <>
Subject: Re: Non Homuncular Memetics

Paul Marsden wrote:

> snip

> The meme doesn't
> have intrinsic intentionality - it doesn't want to do anything it
> just
> does it, blindly. The meme doesn't have agency, or a self, it has no
> understanding or appreciation of what is going on whatsoever. This is
> *
> very* different from the metaphysical self supposedly posited over and
> above memes according to the majority of current postings which
> include
> such ephemeral attributes. 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.
> Memetics can explain how it can be that the lights are on when when
> there
> is nobody at home. When you conduct a functional analysis of culture
> at a
> memetic level the English language obliges you, grammatically
> speaking, to
> make the meme the subject of the dicussion. Just because the meme is
> the
> subject of the discussion does't automatically mean that it has

If you don't mind, I am stimulated to make this interjection of my
immediate reaction to this line of reasoning...Positing that memes "do
anything" is pretty dangerous ground if one were to ask me. Memes "do
little" as any subsequent replication is done by humans. Now, memes
*may* stimulate this by causing serotonin or some other neurotransmitter
to "make us feel good, makes us feel less anxiety, or cause anxiety that
causes us to pass on the meme to ease the tension, etc." My own
conception of the meme is similar to a that of a catalyst or enzyme,
i.e., its presence "fits" some part of our nervous system and in the
process of assimilating it "something happens" that encourages a
"reflex," i.e. pass on the meme!

I see an analogy in the meme and our organism where one could compare
meme evolution to mitochondria (organelles) whereby there is some type
of symbiotic relationship, synergism or catalytic reaction and the meme
construct engenders the reaction on our part to, again, "pass it
along." Note that there is no value judgment involved, i.e., the meme
is not "good or bad," but only that the meme, in concert with a reactive
(read "susceptible") organism, is "copied" and distributed. This would
also explain why some memes and some people, together, result in
frenetic meme reproduction; whereas, in other folks or with other
memes, the meme may be practically "dormant." Obviously, the evolution
of the meme occurs as a result of this "copying or replicating" process
as the host nervous system and it's cognitive milieu *may* distort or
alter the meme (it is highly likely that it will as the copy could never
be "identical" to the original, especially when one considers that the
meme construct is always in a "different" cognitive milieu with
different people and the subsequent totality would have its own
uniqueness). The host organism may "deliberately" (note - I have the
same reservations as others about "free will") alter the construct to
improve upon it or to impart a "personal signature" to the resulting
shared construct.

Again, please pardon my interruption into the thread, but this thread
did provoke my personal concepts of meme constructs and their
propagation, i.e., when not "within an organism" they are comparable to
"seeds" or "a virus body" in that they are not the "total construct"
they become within the milieu of the human nervous system where the
combination is both unique and synergistic.

Thanks for allowing this interruption...



Bob Grimes Jacksonville, Florida

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore....."

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