Re: Behavioral replication (was Re: Xtra!: Brodie defends Lynch)

Robin Faichney (
Sun, 20 Sep 1998 19:54:42 +0100

Date: Sun, 20 Sep 1998 19:54:42 +0100
From: Robin Faichney <>
Subject: Re: Behavioral replication (was Re: Xtra!: Brodie defends Lynch)
In-Reply-To: <>

In message <>, Aaron
Lynch <> writes
>Dawkins (1976) seems to take the term "replicator" to hold a higher meaning
>than simply "that which replicates." Moreover, in The Extended Phenotype
>(1982), he treats behaviors as phenotypes of memes. In contrast, I point
>out that culture is not isomorphic to the one-way translation from gene to
>protein found in biology, which is the reason that cytochrome C, for
>instance, is not usually analyzed as a replicator.

I'm very aware I haven't gone into this nearly as deeply as
several of the regular contributors, but it seemed worth
risking making a fool of myself to say this:

Give the causal circularity involved, surely it must be wrong
to argue either that behaviours replicate *merely* using
organisms' "internal storage", or that internally stored
mnemons replicate *merely* using behaviours. After all, just
as genes aren't really selfish, neither behaviours nor
mnemons replicate intentionally. Both genetics and memetics
rely on our taking the stance that genes and memes "want" to
survive and replicate, but we must beware of taking that too
literally, and bear in mind that what's really "down there"
is just good old-fashioned mechanical interaction. So to
view either methodological behaviorism or what I haven't
seen an alternative term for, mentalism, as inherently or
generally superior, must be a mistake. We should cultivate
the flexibility to look at it either way. Though whether
that implies that *both* behaviours and mnemons should be
considered memes, I don't know.

Robin Faichney

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