Re: List of meme definitions

Ton Maas (
Sun, 26 Apr 1998 19:08:48 +0200

Message-Id: <v03102801b169189509b4@[]>
In-Reply-To: <>
Date: Sun, 26 Apr 1998 19:08:48 +0200
From: Ton Maas <>
Subject: Re: List of meme definitions

Chris wrote:
>The encoding, by the human nervous system, of its memes in
>extra-neural media (such as paper, stone, vibrating air, etc.) is for
>the purpose of transmission of them to other human nervous systems.
>The meme is not a meme without the nervous system. Nor can the meme
>exist except as some configuration of matter. The configuration of a
>material determines its interactive properties with its environment.
>The meme is embodied _as_ the configuration of a physical medium, and
>in its 'active' form, that of the human nervous system.
> The human nervous system cannot be isolated from its environment (and
>still function and evolve as such). The nervous system and its
>environment are a complete cybernetic feedback circuit which we
>artificially and linguistically "separate" at our own semantic (and so
>memetic) peril.

The problem seems to be at which level memes are described or defined. When
two people speak the "same" word, do we assume that on a neurophysiological
level the underlying processes are identical? In a digital computer (of the
presently common type) this is usually the case, but experiments with
neural nets have demonstrated that in fact their is no such thing as two
mental processes being identical. NedTalk is a neural-net type computer
that can be taught to read printed text to blind people. Every individual
machine learns the trick in its own unique way, however. So whereas both
machines can succesfully read the same text, they do so in (not trivially)
different ways. If memes are defined on the level of their patterning of
the specific substrate, they're all unique and there is no such thing as
two "identical" memes.


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