Re: Do monkeys have memes

Ton Maas (
Sat, 8 Nov 1997 08:29:13 +0200

Message-Id: <v03102803b089b588b808@[]>
In-Reply-To: <>
Date: Sat, 8 Nov 1997 08:29:13 +0200
From: Ton Maas <>
Subject: Re: Do monkeys have memes

Mark Mills said:
>I agree that memes can have an impact on genetic reproduction. My
>complaint with the term 'recruited' related to the sense of 'agency' you
>deposit upon the meme construct. The gene or meme is not a little man
>(homunculi). I would rather describe genes and memes as emergent
>features of life processes. They are features without any ability to act
>with their own sense of identity.

I'll keep that in mind. Excellent formulation.

>Systems can respond to the environment and maintain equilibrium. Objects
>are inert. Genes and memes are objects (coded units of substrate). Of
>course, all objects are assemblies of systems so the best we can do is
>pick a statistical range of interest and do what seems useful with the

Hmm. I will have to chew a bit more on that one and may get back to you
later. In the meantime: how would you feel if I were to liken "meme" and
"object" to wave and particle? If we were to agree that the meme can never
be the object and the object can never be the meme, but they somehow change
over into each other following our point of view (forgive me my extremely
limited understanding of physics), I would feel more comfortable with your

>The 'selfish gene' with its homunculi is a useful intellectual trap. It
>gets all sorts of people to consider alternative epistimologies.

That's actually a very "neat idea" (freely after Ollie North). Do I smell
something fishy here?



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