Re: Substance and Form

Josip Pajk (
Mon, 08 Jun 1998 12:03:17 +0200

Message-Id: <>
Date: Mon, 08 Jun 1998 12:03:17 +0200
From: Josip Pajk <>
Subject: Re: Substance and Form
In-Reply-To: <>

At 14:02 05.06.98 -0400, Derek wrote:

(Paul's comments about *re*presentations)

>Here we stray into the territory of Popperian ontology. If a
>representation is external then it is taken to exist in World 3. If it
>is purely part of our subjective consciousnesses, it is part of World
>2, and if it consists of atoms it is part of World 1. A symbolic
>artefact has both world 1 and World 3 reality, and may also appear in
>World 2 if it is perceived by anyone.
>Durham says (1991, p3, footnote 1):
>'The conceptual reality of culture has been argued persuasively by Sir
>Karl Popper, the noted philosopher of science, who differentiates the
>reality of ideational phenomena as 'World 3': the world of knowledge,
>principles, and statements in and of themselves. This world,
>consisting of "the products of the human mind" is distinguished by
>Popper from the world of physical objects or things ("World 1") and
>from the world of subjective experiences ("World 2"). But, argues
>Popper, World 3 is in no way "less real" than Worlds 1 or 2; the
>influence of culture on human behavior proves its reality.'
>So Durham seems to be saying that ideational culture is in World 3.
>However, this strikes me as being at variance with Cloak's
>(1975, p.63) insistence that i-culture is internal:
>'.. an unobserved, enduring structure or set of related structures
>internal to the animal' [Cloak italicises 'internal']
>I don't reckon that Popper would have agreed that his World 3 culture
>is internal - since he reserves internal states to World 2.
>Perhaps we are beginning here to see the roots of much of the confusion
>in memetics. Dawkins took a concept from Cloak which was of an
>internal instructional pattern - this has its modern descendents in
>Lynch's mnemons and in what one might call the memetic mainstream.
>But maybe Cloak misinterpreted Geertzian anthropology? By failing to
>make the World 2/World 3 distinction, Cloak, through Dawkins, drove us
>into a dichotomy: memes/mnemons inside, artefacts and behaviour
>Even so, as only a half-believing Popperian (which is a state not too
>far from Graham Greene's Aunt Agatha - Greene 1969), I'd still be wary
>of thinking I could make a quantitiative science out of World 3
>objects, although Durham tries to, if I interpret him correctly.
>I wrote quite while ago:
>> >The second one is to say that memetics need not be about internal ideas
>> >at all. This, I think, will be regarded as heretical (although I
>> >subscribe to this, as I'll explain).
>and Paul replied:
>> I don't think this is heretical, I think it is entirely necessary if we are
>> to operationalise memetics.
>I'm glad we agree, but I don't think many other people on this list
>Greene G (1969) Travels with my Aunt. Penguin, London.
>Popper KR and Eccles J (1978) The Self and its Brain. Springer
>Verlag, Berlin.

I think that Popper "forgot" in his classification that his Worlds are
nothing less nor more than three LEVELS of the same World (see my previous
notes). The world of physical objects or things ("World 1"), or the world
of substance is the rigid REGULATIONAL level of the system (organism,
culture, ...). Processes on this level (as the genetic ones) are happening
most of the time "by themselves" without any intentional control, following
the rigid rules immanent to this system's level. Can we change the fact
that a particular electromagnetic radiation is always perceived by our eyes
as "red" or that the word "red" in a particular language or culture
produces basically the same sensation in any particular entity evolved in
this culture?
The world of subjective experiences ("World 2") is (IMHO) the CONTROL level
of the system. Things and processes here can be directed (optimized) in
some extents but not "over" the capabilities of the regulators on the lower
level. On this level signals (commands, recommendations, goals) from the
higher (GUIDANCE) level must be adapted to the present state (constraints)
of the regulators on the lower level. Subjective experiences are on this
level in the same extent "real" as for the external perturbations (gained
from the regulators) as for those of the internal "memetic" state of the
system. This is a "balancing" level in-between the rigid regulational and
dissipative (near chaotic) guidance level of any self-organized system.
"'World 3': the world of knowledge, principles, and statements in and of
themselves consisting of "the products of the human mind"" is, as I see it,
the higher (GUIDANCE) control level of such self-organized systems. Here
everything can happen. The most unusual constructs can be instantiated.
But, fortunately, this constructs (ideas) must pass through the lower two
levels in order to be instated in the "real" objective world of substance
(artifacts, behaviours). If, as written in some paper I read recently:
"thinking or saying that president Reagan is a pig" would mean that he is
really a pig, we should be very careful about what we think and say.
So, to conclude: what is knowledge, principles and statements of themselves
or "the products of the human mind" without that mind able to extract their
form, or to interpret them? What is culture without that same minds? If we
speculate and say that all artifacts (material products) produced insofar
by human kind are the substance that "holds" its culture, I say there is no
culture without this human kind or another kind (artificial intelligence?)
able to extract any form from these artifacts. Can we be sure that another
"intelligence" will extract exactly the same forms from these artifacts?
Would these artifacts be enough to instate the "same" kind of culture in
another kind of intelligent beings evolved in some other environment? I
don't have an answer to these questions, but what I know is the fact that
we all (even if we are all of the same kind of intelligence) produce our
own forms upon the same substantial structures (artifacts, observed
behaviours) and it is very unlike that with some other intelligent specie
things would be different.
So, to return on some more "real" issues: I think we in memetics (as it is
true for any other science) will not go anyway if we try only to "count how
many memes are in someone's head". It is something like "counting how many
angels can be found on a needle". All we can do is observe (count,
quantify, categorize) the artifacts and behaviours from the real world of
substance as they are happening and produced, and try to identify the
regularities in this. All I want to say is that there is no I-memetics
without M-memetics, it is the same Memetics. An I-thing is a structure of
common regularities in many M-things. There is no "World 3" without the
other two worlds, as there is no information without matter and energy. We
have to understand this if we want to go any further in our work.


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