Re: Replicators, was Non Homuncular Memetics

Valla Pishva (
Mon, 06 Oct 1997 16:05:19 -0400 (EDT)

Date: Mon, 06 Oct 1997 16:05:19 -0400 (EDT)
From: Valla Pishva <>
Subject: Re: Replicators, was Non Homuncular Memetics

On Fri, 3 Oct 1997, Mario Vaneechoutte wrote:

> 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.

Depending on the abstraction within which we hold memes and genes,
this is not neccessarily true. We would never be using the term "meme" if
memes didn't have a conceptual framework within which they operated (ie
the cultural level of abstraction). Memes serve now to replicate this
cultural ability for the replication of memes in our brains. This
internal "memetic processor" is replicated (encoded) in every generation
by memes themselves starting at an individual's birth. This processor is
just as physical as we are for genes, which replicate through us. Memes
can not use us for information exchange without creating a system within
which to exchange that information.
A rebutal may be "dont genes create that system?" No, genes
create the system UPON WHICH that system is created. They are a
necessary precondition for, but do not necessitate that system, just like
there is a definable environment that genes as replicators need in order
to be able to create their "processors." These environmental conditions
(here you may want to refer to conditions such as "an oxygen environment"
or "fundamental" physicals laws- i'm not too clear on what) can be seen
as processors which genes do not replicate but rely on to pass on their
"information" (just as memes rely on genes). It is clear, though, that
they are relative to an abstraction so that changing the color of tulips
wont violate the existence of genes, just like changing a few genes may
not alter one's ability to support a memetic system (though it seems like
autism does limit this, from what I read on earlier postings). As for the
initial creation of such systems, they seems to be ("relatively") gradual,
with very fuzzy boundaries (do chimps have memes?).
One difference between these systems seems to be the amount of
integration/interaction there is between individual units within them (on
a relative time scale, of course); genes are the least-interactive with
one another, memes are pretty damn interactive, and the environment can be
seen as having the least barriers to interaction (here, though, if we
look at the level of "fundamental laws" there is maximal intergration
coupled with no change/evolution- Rupert Sheldrake would have something to
say about this).
Also, I think that while memes do replicate with respect to an
abstraction (Aaron's phrase), that abstraction's study is meaningless
without reference to abstractions about the system (hence, memetics).
Maybe this is obvious, but I thought id throw it in anyway.


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