Re: Do monkeys have memes

Valla Pishva (
Wed, 05 Nov 1997 00:54:23 -0500 (EST)

Date: Wed, 05 Nov 1997 00:54:23 -0500 (EST)
From: Valla Pishva <>
Subject: Re: Do monkeys have memes
To: memetics list <>

On Tue, 4 Nov 1997, Mark Mills wrote:

> Val,
> > 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.

Hmm, i didnt think the term would bring such a rebuttal. I have argued
for a continuum of substrates before in this list, so I dont disagree with
you. Im sorry if the anthropomorphism bothers you, but wouldnt you agree
that some memes work against their substrate while others help out genes
as far as replication is concerned?

> >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.'

You got me here. Maybe it would have been better to point out how memes
can spread to organism within that organism's generation.
> 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.

Something which allows an abstraction?

> >But eventually, the underlying mechanism facilitated meme
> >spread across generations, and rebellion against genes was easy and
> >unstoppable...
> Ah, the homunculi trap sticks its head up, again.

Would you mind explaining the homuncular origin's of my reasoning?

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