Re: To have a mnemon

Mon, 8 Jun 1998 14:01:13 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: Re: To have a mnemon
Date: Mon, 8 Jun 1998 14:01:13 -0400 (EDT)


> This hypothetical situation presumes that A --> ~A never happens. By the
> time you have derived the 100,000th mnemon, you might have forgotten the
> 32,768th one. Nothing about the word "mnemon" implies infinite memory
> capacity. Given the finite actual capacity of the brain, you will start
> forgetting them. I would think that you will probably also tend to forget
> arbitrary and nonsensical mnemons faster.

But if one is familiar with (or aware of) the proposition 'duck pollen
invigorates', then surely one is aware of any proposition of the form
'x pollen invigorates'. One may be uncertain what x is, as in a
proposition such as 'slimy tove pollen invigorates', but on hearing
that the automatic reposnse is that it is just another 'x pollen
invigorates'-class proposition.

When I sit generating infinite propositions of this type, I don't store
them up, forgetting eventually the 32,657th one and remembering the
23,487th one and so on, thus being A with respect to the latter and ~A
with respect to the former. I just generate them. That's what
transformational grammar enables us to do. From the infinite
generative power of the grammar, speech acts are produced. There is no
host-concept relationship.

> If you embark on a life-long course of generating mnemons about the
> invigorating effects of various kinds of pollen, I cannot say just which
> ones you will forget faster. After all, this is not among the main
> phenomena I concern myself with. I don't claim to know which mnemons you
> will invent, or which ones you will forget fastest, so I don't know which
> ones you will have left (continue to host) by the age of 100 or so.

So you are implying that I will host all that I can remember? But even
if I cannot remember exactly what I said, I can just apply the 'x
pollen invigorates' program in my grammar organ, and out come another
load of similar propositions - many of which will be the same as the
forgotten ones. Am I now once more a host to them?

> I'd advise caution about the word "duality," too--but that's another
> discussion. When used with care, the word "mnemon" does not lead to
> infinities or contradictions.

In that case you will have to specify that propositions are not
mnemons, since we are not hosts to vast (if not infinite) hordes of
propositions. We do have memory of course, and if you want a unit of
memory, then why not a mnemon. There is nothing wrong with mnemons per
se (except that we can't really quantify them), but your insistence
that individual conceptual statements are mnemons constructs a link
between memory and language that is contrary to most of what we know
about these two things. It's certainly contrary to all that Chomsky
says about language generation.


This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)