Re: Anyone here?

Robert G. Grimes (
Mon, 03 Nov 1997 13:43:20 -0500

Date: Mon, 03 Nov 1997 13:43:20 -0500
From: "Robert G. Grimes" <>
Subject: Re: Anyone here?

Valla Pishva wrote:

> Let me try a jumpstart.
> Do monkeys have memes, even though their transmition may be hampered
> by
> primitive communication (just like autistics or "wild" children)?
> How about oyster-catchers (birds), who learn their method of opening
> oysters (stabbing or prying) from their parents, and perform poorly
> unless
> both parents are of the same type? I think memes, like culture and
> consciousness, evolved over time on continuous rather than discreet
> levels?


Or, perhaps the "meme handling structure" is what evolves, similar to
our genetic predisposition to certain grammatical constructs, i.e., ala
Noam Chomsky's work and other linguists, as humans are apparently
phylogentically prepared for language (they do not make certain
grammatical errors that they would if it was learned on an entirely
heuristic or trial and error method - they have pre constructs enabling
them to handle different types of syntax). Thus, memes evolve by
multiple methods, deliberate changes by the host prior to recopying or
transmitting, errors in copying, errors in interpretation, errors in
memory or recall, modifications due to differences in the host's
cognitive milieu, etc., etc. I would assume that what you have
reference to, if I understood you correctly, is that the "organism" may
have a preexisting ability for "meme handling" rather than "inherited
memes," just was we are born with an ability to handle language but not
necessarily the language of our parents, i.e., we are not born knowing
language but with a proficiency to learn and use language.

Certainly, even if the meme exists only in "seed" structure external to
the organism's cognitive milieu, i.e., oral history, written history,
art forms, etc., there is a "meme continuum" where memes are
continuously in process of being stored or dormant, transmitted,
received, and retransmitted. Thus, our religion, philosophy, and other
meme bundles or complexes are a continuous flux of meme structures both
static and being replicated, evolving during the process, etc., and most
certainly are "around" in some organism(s), social structures or other
forms for extremely long periods of time (one might refer to
nationalistic memes, racial memes, ethnic memes, etc., etc., as various
routes of meme propagation through hosts, etc.) However, a meme
involving the benefits of cleaning chain mail would not be of much use
today except, perhaps, to an archivist or curator in a museum. Whereas,
a fundamental meme, such as "time waits for no man" may have been here
for an eternity.

As far as monkeys and other species are concerned, I would speculate
that they have similar mechanisms to memes but on a species specific
basis, i.e., related to their "language" proficiencies with which they
are born, etc.

Thanks for the provocative post...



Bob Grimes Jacksonville, Florida

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

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