Re: Substance and Form

Bruce Howlett (
Sun, 28 Jun 1998 17:44:02 +0000

Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 17:44:02 +0000
From: Bruce Howlett <>
Subject: Re: Substance and Form


Josip Pajk wrote:

> 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.

I suppose it is nice to have someone agree with you, but not absolutely
necessary! I DO agree with you and I would like to support your comments because
the only way to justify all the effort (in developing Memetic Theory) is to
distill some actionable knowledge.

Your question, "What is culture without that same minds?" clarifies the
environment in which memetics works, that is "culture", not minds. The
operational side of memetics is about the expressions of memetic events and
phenomena and can only be observed historically. The only way to test for a
specific meme is to observe the resultant behaviour. Any act of interrogation
will obviously corrupt the meme by forcing the host to cognitively describe a
state of mind. Memes work so well because people don't usually question or
closely examine their irrationally held beliefs, attitudes or opinions.


Bruce Howlett

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