Re: memetics-digest V1 #26: metabeliefs

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Thu, 16 Apr 1998 11:26:42 -0700 (PDT)

Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 11:26:42 -0700 (PDT)
From: Eva-Lise Carlstrom <>
Subject: Re: memetics-digest V1 #26: metabeliefs
In-Reply-To: <>

aron Lynch responds to Adrian Kelleher, 14 April 98:

> >>If you want to raise questions about validity of individual claims,
> >>you might as well also doubt whether the person has the meme he
> >claims to
> >>have.
> >
> >By 'claims', I meant that I may claim to have been decisively
influenced by
> >my father in accepting Zen Buddism, but perhaps I am mistaken in the
> >assertion. Here, I'm making a claim about an objective *fact*. This is
> >the same as doubting someone has the meme he claims to have - you
> >can't possibly be *mistaken* about what you believe at a given moment.

I agree with Aaron that doubting someone's assertion about where they got
a meme is not on the same level as doubting their assertion that they have
that meme. However, I don't think it's as clear as he seems to think
that one cannot be mistaken about one's own beliefs. Since beliefs are
digital units, but involve many factors including degrees of understanding
and conviction, it is perfectly possible, for instance, to state with no
intention of deceit that one believes something to be true, but also to
act in ways derived from contradictory beliefs. By adding "at a given
moment", Aaron probably means to avoid this kind of fuzzy case, but I
don't think that does the trick, as even "one's beliefs at a given moment"
are not a completely discrete set that can be guaranteed
clear and non-contradictory. See Dennett's multiple-drafts model of
consciousness, as laid out in _Consciousness Explained_, for a description
of how a person's belief set might not be as clear-cut as Aaron's remark
would have it.

--Eva-Lise Carlstrom

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