Re: Emotional memes?

Thu, 27 Aug 1998 08:58:39 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: Re: Emotional memes?
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 08:58:39 -0400 (EDT)

> "... Since the most of us have concluded that the meme in
> transmission is not the
> same as the meme within the organism...",
> which is something I understand and endorse, but then later
> "...Again, most of us have come to the general conclusion that the meme does not
> exist out side of the mind for obvious reasons that have been discussed
> previously..."

I don't know where these quotes are from, but I can say that:

a) Yes, 'most' memeticists do think that the meme is internal to the
mind in some way, and that the things we can see are 'phemotype' or
'meme products', but.....

b) this is a serious mistake, as I try to explain in my latest JoM

Exactly what the 'obvious reasons' are, I have no idea. It seems to me
that whether you are studying behavioural contagions (at the
micro-level) or cultural evolution (at the macro-level), the units of
analysis are the behaviours or the cultural manifestations.

As far as I can see there are no 'obvious reasons' for
postulating replicating internal neural/mental structures/entities,
simply that around 1982, Dawkins made a decision to 'refine' his
original meme definition and situate memes in the head, rather than
out here in the visible world.

Of course, if it could be demonstrated, via PET scanning or some other
brain imaging technique, that there _are_ replicating or apparently
transmissible brain patterns of some kind, then I'll concede the point.
But I rather doubt such things will ever be found. Even if they are
found, they are unlikely to map onto behaviour with anything like the
one (internal)meme-one behaviour that memetics seems to require.

One gene-one enzyme, as Beadle and Tatum said, but one (internal)
meme-one behaviour, probably not.

In the meantime it doesn't matter, we can still study memes as
behaviours, artefacts etc etc. There's no loss of explanatory power.


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