Re: Replicators, was Non Homuncular Memetics

Mark Mills (
Fri, 3 Oct 97 09:45:44 -0600

Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: Replicators, was Non Homuncular Memetics
Date: Fri, 3 Oct 97 09:45:44 -0600
From: Mark Mills <>
To: memetics list <>

Mario wrote,

>Indeed biologists have focused on nucleic acids, for many good reasons.
>However, it is often forgotten that to replicate, a cell need not only
>inherit these informational molecules, but also some minimum of
>processors (enzymes) which can interprete and duplicate the DNA, and
>also membranes...

I'd add rhythm to your list of requirements, hopefully emphasizing your
point. Without rhythm, the system is dead. Research has shown circadian
rhythms exist at the RNA level. Higher frequency rhythms probably exist
at the DNA-RNA level, but remain beyond our measurement skills.

I like to bring up systemic intangibles. Fortunately, rhythm is fairly
easy to measure. Everyone would feel a lot more comfortable with wave
mechanics if Fourier transforms were taught to teenagers. Waves are just
as 'real' as 'mass.'

>The only independent replicator on Earth is the cell which
>can be regarded as a system of molecules forming a closed semantic

I'm not sure what you are getting at here. I know we are talking about a
difficult notion, but I wonder if the statement is a bit extreme.

I doubt that any cell is really a closed circle. If it was entirely
closed, it would be a 'black hole,' emitting no evidence of its existence.

All life is dependent on other life forms since all contribute to the
environment and life adapts to the environment. No life form is entirely
independent and self sufficient. All animal cells are dependent on the
existence of an oxygen rich atmosphere, a by product of another
independent replicator (plants). Many plants are dependent on animals
for various roles in the reproductive cycle. The examples are endless.

At the multicellular organism level, each cell is dependent on a host of
replicators outside the cell nucleus. Mitochondria exist as a parallel to
chomosome replication. In the gut, a host of bacteria (independent
replicators) are required for organism success.

I suspect our dialog is confounded by unfamiliar linguistic needs. In
system terms, we are confounded by 'linear' vocabularies (one-cause,
one-effect) in a domain dominated by feed-back.

>It is here that the basic dissimilarity with memes can be found:
>memes are merely used for information exchange between different
>processors. In opposition to genetic biology, these processors (I mean
>us) are not encoded by the information contained in memes.

I suspect the perceived dissimilarity reflects choices in definitions and
perspective. It seems likely that an open minded consideration of the
DNA substrate/code system (genetics) with the neural substrate/code
system (memetics) will find remarkably similar processes.


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