Re: testing memetics

Mark Mills (
Thu, 18 Dec 97 14:34:59 -0600

Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: testing memetics
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 97 14:34:59 -0600
From: Mark Mills <>
To: "Mario Vaneechoutte" <>,


It looks like we are in agreement on a number of issues, I'll reply to
the areas of uncertainty.

>...the issue is that for memetics there is something that must
>be transmitted.

What do you mean by transmitted?

We have touched on the transmission issue before. As I remember, I took
the position that memetic replication was a matter of imprinting
inhereted memetic 'blanks.' The blanks were formless 'preset' processes
with the ability to record experiences and gain form. Transmission was

>>Memetics must work without 'copying' because the first memetic organism had
>>nothing to copy.
>Here I think there is confusion between having a brain and being able to
>communicate by nonchemical means. Many invertebrates e.g. have brains,
>they have perception organs, but these are not used to communicate or to
>transmit information.

The post by Howard Bloom mentions a wide number of 'social' activities in
fairly simple organisms (octopi, etc).

>It occurs to me that you consider each neuronal event in the brain and
>every new knowledge or experience as a meme or as memetic. This is a
>possible definition, as there are already numerous definitions which
>make the term 'meme' rather contentless, but then 'meme' again looses
>some of the explanatory power specific for social and cultural events as
>possible between social animals and humans.

This is the 'big issue,' no?

I don't consider each neuronal event a meme. I do think that every
systemic neuronal event is memetic, though.

I suspect I'm tending to favor more of a systemic definition for memes. A
meme is not a physical 'thing,' but a system that has coherence at a
specific scale and frequency domain. The meme has to have a 'active
behavior' to identify it, a 'reproductive method' to propagate it, and a
substrate to stablize processes (active and reproductive). This
definition offers some advantages in information theory, but more
importantly, it offers a framework to include both 'instinct' and
'experience' in the memetic picture.


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