Re: On Gatherer's behaviourist stance

Bill Benzon (
Tue, 8 Sep 1998 06:52:10 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Tue, 8 Sep 1998 06:52:10 -0500
From: (Bill Benzon)
Subject: Re: On Gatherer's behaviourist stance

At 8:36 AM 9/8/98 +0100, Paul Marsden wrote:

>concerned with human activity. The reason I think you are wrong is because
>memetics, if properly constructed

And there's the rub -- "if properly constructed" -- that's what we can't
get clear on. I certainly don't need to be convinced that an evolutionary
approach is needed, nor even that mental & brain states are real and must
be studied. When Derek references an article of mine at the end of his
article, he's referencing an article that is about cultural evolution, and
that does have something to say about what goes on inside people's heads
(though I think of that as the locus of cultural phenotypes & what I say
is, alas, rather obscure). But I think the "mind virus" version of memetics
as it is actually being elaborated is not a terribly useful construction &
I think Derek's article does a service in pointing out some of the
limitations of that construction.

Now, I'm probably more interested in what goes on inside our heads than
Derek is; most of my work is about what goes on inside our heads. But I do
think that the cultural analog of the biological genes, the cultural
replicators, are the external physical behaviors and artifacts. That's
what people see and imitate. And when you start asking why they imitate
this behavior but not that, well, you're asking about what goes on inside
their heads. And that too is part of the story of cultural evolution and
needs to be studied. But that's not cultural genetics.

Bill B

William L. Benzon 201.217.1010
708 Jersey Ave. Apt. 2A
Jersey City, NJ 07302 USA

This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)