Re: To have a mnemon

Bill Benzon (
Mon, 08 Jun 1998 09:41:19 -0400

Date: Mon, 08 Jun 1998 09:41:19 -0400
From: Bill Benzon <>
Subject: Re: To have a mnemon


> 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.

While I have severe reservations about Chomsky's view of things, I think
Gatherer's general point still holds, that the identification of propositions
with mnemons does not reflect a realistic psychology. And that is the major
source of my problems with mentalistic memetics; it is not serious about what
goes on inside our heads. For that reason I simply cannot take it seriously.
It trivializes the mind and, by nonetheless insisting that memetics is about
what does on inside our heads, it thus trivializes the study of cultural
evolution. It's hardly even worth the effort required to do a serious
critique, thought I'm certainly glad that Gatherer and Best have undertaken to
deliver such a critique. But I'm a bit chagrined that they have to spend
valuable time on that critique rather than pursuing their own insights into

William Benzon
Senior Scientist
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