Re: Doing the neural walk

John Wilkins (
Thu, 17 Sep 1998 09:45:40 +1000

Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 09:45:40 +1000
From: John Wilkins <>
Subject: Re: Doing the neural walk

| From: Mark Mills <>
| Date: Tue, 15 Sep 98 09:04:26 -0600
| Subject: Re: Doing the neural walk
| John Wilkins wrote,
| >Am I a cyberneticist? I guess, since I follow the Williams definition
| >which is based on evolutionary genes as "cybernetic abstractions" that
| >to some extent I am, but I would rather say that I am attempting to
| >understand memes as semantic information
| Great. You have stated a preference for process models for both genes
| and memes, so the cybernetic model fits.
| >that is, meaningful messages that are transmitted.
| >Cybernetics assumes a control system, and I do not think that it
| >is useful to conceive of memes (or genes, for that matter) as
| >"programs", which invites one
| >to see bodies or "hosts" as "lumbering robots" so controlled.
| There are a variety of ways to visualize cybernetic models. They include
| the lumbering robot, but there are others.
| >However, Mark has made some good points about this debate, and the issue
| >indeed one of substance versus process, or rather (in the terms used in
| >taxonomic debates), one of pattern versus process.
| Thank you for the clarification.
| >While I have some real difficulties with the replicator/interactor
| >distinction when one is dealing with protobiology (or protocultural
| >output in culture), I certainly have no problems with it in the
| >normal course of biology.
| Again, thank you for the clarification.
| Mark

Mark is, of coure, correct that I have consigned myself to the cybernetic
camp, as I realised upon later reflection. I merely wished to emphasise that I
do not reject the replicator/interactor distinction, which was not something
he actually said but I felt might be interpreted that way. I apologise to Mark
for seeming to correct him bad-temperedly - he did not deserve that.
John Wilkins, Head, Graphic Production
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
Melbourne, Australia
Homo homini aut deus aut lupus - Erasmus of Rotterdam

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)