Re: Memes, Biology, Language.

Mark Mills (
Wed, 8 Oct 97 18:05:03 -0600

Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: Memes, Biology, Language.
Date: Wed, 8 Oct 97 18:05:03 -0600
From: Mark Mills <>
To: memetics list <>

Wesley Schwein wrote:

>Yes, exactly. She lacked the mental software (circuitry, pathways,
>whatever) for producing adult syntax, in a lesser degree than the failure
>of apes to acquire syntax. Ape language studies have demonstrated that we
>are not the only species with the ability to use discrete symbols for
>communication, but we're still the only known syntactic beings.

Interesting. I am left wondering if you think we are 'alone' in our
syntactic abilities or only a highly complex expression of such abilities.

Now, if only we could agree on a link between syntactic ability and

You mention her 'lack of mental software.' What was missing? A circuit
(passive), a program (active), a circuit set up by a program?

If you can conjure up the image of a 'mental program in the brain,' I'd
like to propose such a thing is the physical representation of a meme, a
pulsating set of neurons capable of timed stimulation of various
available connection to other parts of the body. The operation of such
programs (memes) produces behavior we recognize as syntax.
Understandable syntax is the behavioral response of an active and well
'formed' meme complex within a brain.

These programs (memes) would be analogous to hermit crabs, the biological
form available but rarely seen. The usual thing we see is the shell they
lock onto. In the human meme case, the program (meme) grabs experiences
to base behaviors upon. Via mimicry, the meme gains form.

Such a model deals with the issues of 'agency' quite nicely. The
programs (memes) could work quite independently, sometimes competitively.
Turning to Aaron's consideration spreading Nazi propaganda, this model
suggests 'Nazi' expressions are but a form memes lock upon.


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