Re: Emotional memes?

Robert G. Grimes (
Thu, 27 Aug 1998 09:16:17 -0400

Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 09:16:17 -0400
From: "Robert G. Grimes" <>
Subject: Re: Emotional memes?


> > "... 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
> article.
> 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.


My "obvious" may not have been so obvious but we have discussed on this board and
elsewhere many times using terms such as "seed, token, husk," etc., to represent that
symbology of the meme external to the mind. We have also discussed that, because of
the uniqueness of each individual cognitive milieu, the meme construct in situ is
unique in each individual but the over all impact of both the meme and the meme
"token" is "close enough for government work" (my words) as to its general efficacy in
effecting behavioral manifestations of some similarity in a particular culture.
Otherwise, it is doubtful that we could "understand" each other as well as we do. It
is also readily apparent, for these reasons, that the behavioral resultant of the meme
is far from fixed from organism to organism.

We can get hung up on the anthropic principles involved but it is readily apparent
that without the organism there is no "information" ( a matter of definition, I rely
on Ton to support this type of thing, and there may not be even then) or memetic
associated cultural behavior with the meme token, etc. Just as a seed cannot flourish
sans light, air and nutrients (tropism requirements) neither can a meme token or
symbology mean much sans the reactive organism or symbiote as it is the symbiotic
relationship that we study. At least that appears reasonable and fairly "obvious" to
me but it is easy to skip steps when we have been discussing these things for so
long. Naturally, I'm skipping over those areas of disagreement and conflict where, it
appears to me, certain refinements may be a matter of taste or technical description
(not to belittle or dismiss them) on which we can get hung up for a great deal of

I still feel that the analogy with organelles is probably one of the best models to
use for discussions of memes in situ. In fact, we might even have excitement with the
concept of the immune reactions evolved from the organelles compared to the "pecking
order" of memes?

Hopefully, this time I've made myself a little more clear...



Bob Grimes Jacksonville, Florida

Man is not in control, but the man who knows he is not in control is more in control...

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore....."

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