Re: List of meme definitions

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Wed, 15 Apr 98 14:19:19 -0500

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Date: Wed, 15 Apr 98 14:19:19 -0500
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Subject: Re: List of meme definitions

>Josip wrote:
>>Unfortunately, in both papers memes are seen as PASSIVE structures
>>(replica-tors,-nda). As I see them, memes are interactors (ACTIVE,
dynamic) >>categories in human neural (dynamic system) ecologies.

I think it is critical to emphasize our premise that memes are a
configuration of matter (as opposed to a member of the Cartesian
dichotomous 'mind' or 'spirit' realm, which is itself a meme).
Specifically, a meme is a configuration of the human brain's
neuro-synaptic circuitry. We should also emphasize, I believe, our
recognition that the configuration of a material substrate (or medium)
determines how that material will 'behave' (react) in its given
environment. Thus the specific configurations of molecules
(genetic and otherwise) affect their interactions with other
molecules. The specific configuration of a computer's RAM memory
effects the activity of its machinery in response to input. Whether
a meme is 'passive' or 'active' depends on the nature of the material
medium in which it is encoded (e.g. paper, stone, vibrating air
molecules, or brain) and the environmental conditions in which it is
found. And as a configuration of the human brain's neuro-circuitry,
a meme can have no other function than to affect that nervous system's
behavior. Thus a meme is a program of the human neuro-computer.

GS'ers, this is not to say that human neuro-programs, as exemplified
by memetic 'belief' systems (sciences, religions, etc.), cannot also
be 'maps' of the organism-in-its-environment. Cybernetic machines
'program' themselves by constructing their programs as functional
'maps' of their environment in relation to themselves. As a
'map-designer program' in this context, general-semantics can be
specified as a 'meta-meme', or 'memetic-(self-)engineering meme',
etc. (We cannot separate our memes from 'ourselves'.)

My essential interest in memes is as a more or less 'concrete'
exemplification of a human neuro-computer program, specifically, one
of the 'viral' type which is a configuration of the computer's
circuitry to behave in such a way as to replicate that configuration
in other computers. And my interest in memetics is as a _scientific_
specification and analyisis of this phenomenon. However, I see
memetics in this capacity as simply our 'foot in the door' to
specifying the far more important and powerful study of human
neuro-computer programming -- and self-programming -- as itself a meme
(a new and 'virulently' spreading concept, systematic science, and
cultural paradigm). Thus I think we should take care not to limit
the scope of memetics to strictly the 'viral' type of human
neuro-program, at least not to the point of wearing 'blinders' to its
larger implications for the specification and study of human
neuro-programs and programming in general.

Chris Turner

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