Re: Memes are Interactors

Ton Maas (
Thu, 9 Apr 1998 10:36:33 +0200

Message-Id: <v03102802b15236d6dc1a@[]>
In-Reply-To: <000801bd62de$b14e4380$705295c1@user>
Date: Thu, 9 Apr 1998 10:36:33 +0200
From: Ton Maas <>
Subject: Re: Memes are Interactors

Paul wrote:
>This distinction between replicanda (behaviour) and memes (symbolic
>representations (i.e. information)) is IMHO, useful but would it not be
>better if your definition explicitly referred to your conclusion as to
>whether the meme is a replicator or simply the replicated. (THE source of

Yes, but in this respect it merely repeats the wonderful confusion that has
always plagued the term "idea". The idea that you have, may give me an idea
and so on. Ideas are both replicators and replicants, and so are memes.

>No I think this Wilkin's definition is closer to your position than you
>think because a meme, in his view is NOT "passive", but "active" because he
>claims it has the capacity for "endogenous" change.

If he does, he is as guilty of fallacious concretization as anyone who
attributes mental characteristics to indivisible particles (like Theillard
used to do). Memes can only get changed in the process of their
replication. They can't change "by themselves", since they don't even
*exist*. (They're just abstractions, invented for our convenience.)

>My working definition (comments and (constructive) criticism invited)
>defines memes thus:
>"MEME: a unit of sociocultural replication composed of a functional pattern
>of information whose selection in a given environment depends on its'
>relative fitness, where fitness is defined by the structural relation to the
>"ownership" of the means of transmission, and where "ownership" is defined
>by the relative power of sources of variation within that structure to
>determine the nature and direction of information flow."

And all this time I thought the whole idea of memes was to _liberate_ us
from the straightjackets of "ownership" and "power" :-)


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