Re: memetics-digest V1 #21

Robert G. Grimes (
Thu, 26 Feb 1998 10:31:50 -0500

Date: Thu, 26 Feb 1998 10:31:50 -0500
From: "Robert G. Grimes" <>
Subject: Re: memetics-digest V1 #21

Hans-Cees Speel wrote:

> >
> > Do we have a terminology for this yet? I have heard this called a `memetic
> > artifact' before--is that considered common usage in the community?
> I am afraid I do not understand the question:-( Was it part of an
> example?



I do believe this is the same problem that has been discussed many times previously.
That is, the initial meme exists in totality only in the mind (cognitive milieu in my
terminology) and as such is a relatively complicated structure determined by current
physical conditions, the associative network of the host and the "original" concept of
which it is a replicate. When it is transferred or "replicated," the copy that actually
transfers is simply a "token" (symbology) which reassumes greater proportions when it
next resides in a cognitive milieu. The interim state is what some of us have referred
to as a "seed, carrier or husk" of the actual original meme. It is the structure in the
mind that possesses the full structure of the meme, including possible stimulation of
neurotransmitters, etc., motivating the host to "replicate" it again, possibly (and
probably) in an evolved format (depending on its complexity). Still, the copy can never
be the same as the original (only "close enough for government work") but near enough to
stimulate "similar" responses in the receiving organism.

The symbology of the meme effected by the host is not the entire structure, i.e., that
structure resides in the cognitive milieu, it is the "carrier, seed, or husk" that
manages to replicate the meme in the new host. We've had plenty of differences of
opinion on this matter previously but it does not seriously impair the usefulness of the
concept. Still, it has to be finally defined, sometime in the future, and there are
still plenty of differences amongst the ideologues. We have similar problems in physics,
etc., where our paradigms are constantly in the process of development to a more
universal, less problematical, functioning definition. All of these are affected by
"explanatory evolution" and, as such, are subject to the vagaries of such evolution,
i.e., become somewhat less probable the greater the the degrees of application and
evolution (the more complicated or wider the application of the explanatory power).
Naturally, if one does truly define "a universal" then we would not have that problem...

All of the criticisms, conflicts, etc., that I've seen on the subject had primarily to do
with these aspects. The primary mechanisms suggest an inherent "facility" on the part of
the host to process memes, very similar to other aspects of language in general, for a
"token" of the symbology to have the power to regenerate a structure in the "receiver" of
a nature closely resembling that structure which originated the "token transaction"
within the "sender." Perhaps we could even draw an analogy to an object of our vision
being a product of certain interference patterns rather than some "objective reality?"
Still, it is subjective reality to the viewer...

To my way of thinking, this is just more evidence of the usefulness of this concept
(memes) whether we can ultimately deliver a "final definition" or not. What we will
probably do is successively "refine" it making it ever the more useful in the process.
Again, we have the same thing in physics where our current concepts enable us to predict,
describe or measure more accurately than prior to the modifications of the paradigm but
never with "perfection." As with physics, I suspect if that state was ever achieved, it
would be the "end of memetics."

Hopefully, my understanding of these differences has been fairly transmitted....

Good to hear from you as usual...




Bob Grimes Jacksonville, Florida

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore....."

=============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see: