Re: On Gatherer's behaviourist stance

Ton Maas (
Thu, 10 Sep 1998 16:58:00 +0200

Message-Id: <v03102804b21d966443f0@[]>
In-Reply-To: <>
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 16:58:00 +0200
From: Ton Maas <>
Subject: Re: On Gatherer's behaviourist stance

Mario wrote:
>Is thinking or talking to myself behaviour? It is my impression that social
>psychologists tend to deny that thinking even exists, since it results in no
>observable behaviour or artefact. It is an illusion. Am I right? Than I
>have to
>disagree with this kind of reasoning.

Thinking or talking to yourself is not only behavior, it is
_communication_. After all, it is entirely possible to discover something
"new" (previously unknown to you) by simply talking/thinking to yourself.
There really is no fundamental difference. Information can be effectively
defined as the difference which makes a difference and it doesn't matter
how or where that difference is made.

>I happen to agree - but starting from fundamentally other reasoning than that
>of Derek - that memes, when they are to be compared with genes - AS IT WAS
>SUGGESTED BY DAWKINS - also through the use of replicator for both -,
>cannot be
>mental entities (something Lynn Margulis appears to have said before), but
>rather something like printed texts can be considered as the true analog of
>genetic information. E.g., such texts can be replicated like genes by a
>processor (resp. press, polymerase), without prior transformation, just
>But one should not confuse these textual artefacts which have 'digital'
>informational content with pottery and church buildings.

And why not, may I ask? The distinction between analog and digital is
purely abstract and cannot conveniently be made in reality. No text is
purely digital, neither is any piece of pottery purely analog. The
distinction itself is transcended by the iconic, which has both elements.
It is my strong belief that the analog is grossly overlooked/underestimated
both by geneticists and memeticists and that both persuasions can be viewed
as cravings for singular explanation of complex phenomena. No-one said it
more eloquently than Ben Whorf, when accusing the ethnomethodologists of
looking at the corpse of a conversation rather than at the actual process.

I would _love_ to see a memetical explanation of the religious use of a
charred Punch & Judy show in Russell Hoban's wonderful novel "Ridley
Walker" :-)


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)