Re: Doing the neural walk

Robert G. Grimes (
Tue, 15 Sep 1998 12:26:30 -0400

Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 12:26:30 -0400
From: "Robert G. Grimes" <>
Subject: Re: Doing the neural walk

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I like the outline that Mark wrote and think that he made a fine contribution.  But I'm still a little restricted.   I still have a problem as "everything is substance," in my terminology.  Charge is substance, osmotic pressures are substance,  words are substance (vibratory motion through an elastic medium, printed symbology, et al), etc. Still,   hopefully, we can work from this armature and into a paradigm, stance, cybernetic mode, meme construct, neural construct, etc., that we can all utilize.

For example, you will recall that we had a fairly good agreement that the communication symbology is the "meme seed" and that the complete meme itself is stored in the CNS in some fashion (now just wait a second, we can't solve all of neuroscience immediately) and for that reason would appear to  be unique in the individual.  Now, personally, I prefer the cybernetic analogues because, thus far, they appear to be closer to "reality" of the CNS functions - "The Society of Mind," etc.  But, as others have said,  it really matters not whether this is a "pattern" (very descriptive) of charges, neural associations or whether this resides in an equivalent of "RAM" (we know that we have recall or memory whereby we re-access or activate these equivalents of experience in our neural storehouse, and we can call "accessible storage" anything we want as long as we agree to the relationships).

Now, if we "see" a fellow wearing his baseball cap backwards  we have that experience in our storage medium, subject to all of our other associative and chemical influences that make our medium "us."  That experience may "resonate" (be patient) and we like it, "cool," and we adjust our baseball cap accordingly and "fit in."  This behavior or process is the evidence of the instantiation of the meme seed that we received (either by witnessing it, reading it, seeing it on television, hearing it in a song, imitating a cohort's behavior, etc.- meme seeds all).  Without the externalized evidence of behavior we cannot measure the diffusion of innovation (like we can the evidence of transistor radios to the ears of folks intently listening, all over the world, etc.- the transistor radio communication meme, etc.)

Now, we simply cannot register the evidence of the existence of the instantiation of the meme sans some kind of behavior, witnessing, demonstrating, or validating  the event, whatever the behavior we take as evidence.  But, there would be no behavior sans the neural equivalent, i.e., recalling the meme, feeling the "urge," sending messages to the motor effectors, etc., to "snap our fingers," tilt our cap, pledge allegiance, or place that transistor radio to our ear.

So, again, we have the behavior, the symbology, the code, the pattern, which results from the seed that we "internalize, flesh-out,  store, and react to in some fashion - depending on how such internalized symbology "resonates" in our storage medium with all its associative network.

Now, I have thought previously that we have agreed on the various types of "symbology" of the meme, i.e., either spoken words, printed words, music, paintings, sculpture, etc. some may be behavior, some may  be artifacts, all externalized symbology of the meme in situ which is residing in the CNS of the organism, the organism responding to this meme in situ, demonstrating the evidence of the meme in society by the activity or behavior and thus the diffusion of innovation.

Mark Mills wrote:

 The first time one learns a behavior there is neural
>activity and information storage of a certain kind.  But, with subsequent
>practice, that storage _changes its pattern_.  Which of these subsequent
>neural patterns is _the_ 'internal' meme?   This, in fact, seems to call
>the whole notion of internal neural replicators into doubt, the 'cerebral
>code' changes for a behavior within one individual's lifetime.
Yes,  again, we have the seed first, one cannot learn the behavior or idea sans exposure to the symbology, again, which may be any or many combinations of symbology, behavior, artifacts, etc.  The seed of the meme is stored and will be modified, "fleshed out" to some extent by each individual in their cognitive milieu, still it is "close enough for government work."  When the meme is activated, resonates, or is initiated it is translated into effectors which produce the meme seed, behavior, symbology, etc., again and the process is started again if the seed lands in fertile territory.
Thus, there are 4 ways of defining the relationship between memes and

1. Both genes and memes are substance (substance model)
2. Both genes and memes are process (cybernetic model)
3. Genes are substance, memes are process (common hybrid)
4. Memes are substance, genes are process (unknown hybrid)

Hopefully, this frames the options.  Now, we can related our participants
here to the framework.

So, by the Socratic Method, I'm sort of forced into the genes are substance, meme seeds are process (cybernetic) but, again, my contention originally, I think, is that the meme in situ is substance.  After all, if I have a needle, thread and some cloth then I have substance and the "process" of sewing is the interaction of the substances (including the sewer or tailor) in a fashion that produces modified substance.  If I have neural substance, impose charges (sensory input which is substance), and get modified substance with the interaction between the participating substances, I have a "meme in situ," and can start the process all over again through the effector systems should I "will it," or should the meme in situ "spontaneously" create activity on activation (recall) and I "think" that I will it...

Whether you will accept my construct of that alternative is another thing as I still have the uncomfortable feeling (for me) that "process" means something different than the interaction and relationships between things of "substance."

Still, trying to express the "process" in different terminology may have value in itself...


Bob Grimes
Jacksonville, Florida

Man is not in control, but the man who knows he is not in control is more in control...

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore....."

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