On Gatherer's behaviourist stance

Paul Marsden (PaulMarsden@email.msn.com)
Tue, 8 Sep 1998 08:36:46 +0100

From: "Paul Marsden" <PaulMarsden@email.msn.com>
To: "memetics" <memetics@mmu.ac.uk>
Subject: On Gatherer's behaviourist stance
Date: Tue, 8 Sep 1998 08:36:46 +0100

And now to defend memetics. Bill said

>That, alas, is my feeling about much mental/homuncular memetics, that it is
>advancing substantial claims about the human mind without having read much
>of cognitive and neuropsychology, much less literary theory, music theory,


>The claims it makes about the mind are simplistic and ill-informed
>and the whole enterprise seems to rest on faith than introducing the
>concept of replication into the mix is going to work wonders.

Again I would agree with the first part of this phrase, naive realism of
mental memetics (to coin a phrase) as exemplified by Aaron's approach may
lead us down that path, but the rest does not follow for those of us who are
concerned with human activity. The reason I think you are wrong is because
memetics, if properly constructed can add an evolutionary dimension to the
study of influence and more generally socialisation, by using the
evolutionary loop of variation, replication and selection. This also opens
the door to allow us to draw from evolutionary psychology, helping social
science drop the ridiculous notion of the mind as tabula rasa (or RAM) and
in so doing memetics might identify the propensity for certain types of
culture to be objectified - and passed on - with varying degrees of

Paul Marsden
Graduate Research Centre in the Social Sciences
University of Sussex
e-mail PaulMarsden@msn.com
tel/fax (44) (0) 117 974 1279

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