Re: memetics-digest V1 #21

t (levy@Oswego.EDU)
Wed, 25 Feb 1998 16:25:20 -0500 (EST)

From: <levy@Oswego.EDU>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998 16:25:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: memetics-digest V1 #21
In-Reply-To: <>

Josip Pajk wrote:
> I=92m arguing here with the conception of the meme=92s ability of
> self-replication. The existence of memes (the same as for "selfish" genes
> and organisms) and their replication could be performed only in a system.
> Therefore, there are no memes (nor genes) with-out and out-of a system
> (organism). OK?

Memes are by their very nature, non_real in the sense that they are only
real in the world of ideas. I think because the physical world has a
stricter set of limitations, genes can be studied more empirically. But
memes can be understood empirically as well, in a sense, when we consider
the fact that John Locke was in many ways wrong and that the mind does
contain hard wired predisposals... I don't want to go too far into that
though because we all know that what Locke said is true in the sense that
we can believe any thought possible, however at the root of all cognitive
processes is a biological computer that is heavily influenced by
genetically determined drives.

Now back to the argument, It is true that there are no memes outside
of human minds, although external structures spawned by behaviors that are
a result of the memes can be things, behaviors, whatever. However in
order for memes to reproduce, there must be some medium by which memes can
be transfered/invoked. If a meme is commonly invoked by a specific word
or set of instructions, does not the meme exist partially in that external

> Unlike genes, which are stochastically replicating in the evolution of
> species, and maintain their structures within an entity, memes are
> continuously evolving even in a particular relatively isolated system wit=
> a distinct "autopoesis" and "allopoesis" capability (see the "evolution o=
> one" on the PCP node):

I haven't read this yet. I'll read it sometime.

> this piece of paper only as a structure representing a meme (it is not th=
> original meme). We need a whole system with a copy machine and the WILL
> (goal) to make copies of this particular meme picture. BUT, the "quality"
> of the copy is affected by the "quality" of the system that made the firs=
> replica and that of the copy machine. So, what we finally have? A number =
> copies (structures) containing replicas of "would be" memes. Only if one =

Now this confuses me. Are you trying to say that the structure itself
somehow contains enough information to reproduce the meme? The structure
must explicity include instructions on how to sustain and replicate
itself. The instructions, and whatever structures function to serve these
ends are the memes. And the same structure's memes may mutate so to
succeed in other contexts. The source code changes but the program is

> We must differentiate here two kinds of "quality":
> - -the quality of a meme, and
> - -the quality of the copy (structure) that represents the meme.
> The quality of a meme is individual for any system that received the copy
> (structure) representing the meme. If the system "needs" this particular
> meme it is GOOD for it, if not needed, the meme is rejected.

I'm not sure I understand this. Is that supposed to be self-contained
(what you are saying) or are you drawing from someone else's (or your own)
work a priori?

The aspects of the structure that function to realize the goals of
survival and reproduction of the meme are generally selected and kept as
products of the meme, but the "unnecessary" parts are not necessarily
rejected. This is too reductionistic, although I could accept it if it
really did explain things. There are many factors that mediate in the
process of cultural selection.


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