Memetics or artefactics?

Mario Vaneechoutte (
Mon, 07 Sep 1998 15:51:09 +0200

Date: Mon, 07 Sep 1998 15:51:09 +0200
From: Mario Vaneechoutte <>
Subject: Memetics or artefactics?

Mario wrote:

> Studying artefacts will learn us nothing if we can't look inside the
mind. E.g.,
> cave paintings of females by Cro Magnon people have been interpreted
> part of fertility rites, while another more recent explanation says
that it might
> be just as well porn graffitti of male adolescents. What do artefacts
learn you?

Derek wrote:
When looking at Cro-Magnon man, they're all we've got. If they don't
teach us anything, nothing will. I certainly don't think we can, as
you say, 'look inside the mind' of Cro-Magnon man. It's difficult
enough looking inside the minds of contemporary living people.

But Derek, this was exactly the point I wanted to make. I did not claim
that we can look inside the mind of extinct Cro-Magnon. I justed pointed
to the fact that - when you cannot look into the mind and when artefacts
are all you've got to study, as in the case of Cro-Magnon - it is
tremendlously difficult to say something about the mind - the ideas
which lead to the production of these artefacts.
To the opposite, a little information about the ideas of people, as we
can gather through asking questions, immediately provides a lot of
information on the objects they make or dances they perform and often we
realize that our interpretation - based on our cultural background
interpretation of the artefacts or dances - was completely wrong.

What then do you want to study when you propose that memetics should be


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