Re: Doing the neural walk

Bill Benzon (
Mon, 14 Sep 1998 15:20:04 -0400

Date: Mon, 14 Sep 1998 15:20:04 -0400
From: Bill Benzon <>
Subject: Re: Doing the neural walk

Mark Mills wrote:

> You define gene as a substance or 'thing.' Thus, it is clear that the
> things getting copied in our environment are memes, by definition.

Actually, I don't. Is a bit of overheard conversation a thing or a process?
Now, it happens to be the case that English can make a noun out of anything, but
that's mere grammar and of no interest here.

> This clearly puts you in the memes parallel genes category. You want to
> have a logical parallel between genes and memes. The common hybrid
> doesn't work for you.

Yes. I really want that parallel.

> >This has nothing to do with whether memes are processes or substances.
> Only in the sense that your intentional definitions and logic take no
> interest in the question.


> On the other hand, if you are talking with
> someone who has used the intentional definition meme = process or gene =
> process, there will be misunderstandings.

Yes, I suppose so.

> Additionally, some like Wilkins, will say the entire
> interactor/replicator logic falls apart under scrutiny. Logically,
> Wilkins claims, it is an over simplification. Experimentally, problems
> occur since genes are clearly interactors as well as replicators.

Well, I have no problem, in principle, with one logical entity being an
interactor in one arena and a replicator in another. That is to say, we've got
two causal loops, each having an evolutionary causal structure. One logical
entity plays the interactor role in one of the causal loops and the replicator
role in the other.

> Discussing this difference of opinion will be very difficult without an
> understanding of fundamental definitions.

The difficulty, it seems to me, is in teasing out the causal interactions in
real cases.

> Since I'm a bit puzzled by the mental phenotype model, I have a question.
> Are you saying the selective environment is entirely mental, too? If
> the phenotypes are mental representations, do they compete entirely
> within one mind?

Good question. Very tricky. I can't answer it to my own satisfaction. The
conception I'm looking for is some kind of "collective mind." Cultural
phenotypes exist in communities. They compete with one another for community
allegiance. I'm also thinking of these phenotypes as rather "large" things,
paradigms. A paradigm is an entire belief system. Or a musical or artistic
style (Baroque, Impressionist, Realist, etc.).


William Benzon
Senior Scientist
Meta4 Incorporated
33-41 Newark Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030 USA
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