Re: Do monkeys have memes

Mark Mills (
Tue, 4 Nov 97 21:23:35 -0600

Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: Do monkeys have memes
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 97 21:23:35 -0600
From: Mark Mills <>
To: "memetics list" <>


> This is one of the ideas I'm currently working to expand. It seems
>logical that the first memes were "recruited" by genes as a superfast
>way of genetic propagation.

'Recruited' seems an odd metaphor. If you buy the substrate dependent
definition of memes (ie memes are code units on brain tissue while genes
are code units on chromosomes), then memes are an emergent feature of
genetic activity. They are a level of coherence built upon smaller scale
coherence. Without the emergence of organisms with cellular
differentiation and organs, one cannot find a brain tissue substrate.
Without the substrate, there can be no memes (by definition). The term
'recruited' fails to convey the scale relationship or temporal dependence.

>But they got out of hand fast, since they
>effectively became part of the environment- that is, they
>didn't die out with the individual like genes did.

Genes don't die with the individual, either. Only when the gene pool
dies does any specific gene 'die.'

If you are alluding to 'symbols' or 'artifacts' in the environment, the
substrate definition suggests another substrate and name be chosen to
distinguish the new replicating system. Computer harddrives provide a
good example of an alternative substrate and we have aptly defined
'computer viruses' to identify unexpected replication activity.

It seems that someone should come up with a name to use as an umbrella
term to cover all substrate categories, but I have not heard of one.

>But eventually, the underlying mechanism facilitated meme
>spread across generations, and rebellion against genes was easy and

Ah, the homunculi trap sticks its head up, again.


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