Re: On Gatherer's behaviourist stance

Nick Rose (
Wed, 23 Sep 1998 13:53:13 -0400 (EDT)

From: Nick Rose <>
To: JOM-EMIT Discussion List <>
Subject: Re: On Gatherer's behaviourist stance
Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 23 Sep 1998 13:53:13 -0400 (EDT)

>>Nick Rose said
>>PS: I still think we'd be better off with Cloak's
>>definitions ;)

>Paul Marsden said
>Agreed, but I don't you think that Cloak account
>undermines the putative distinction between imitation and
>"ordinary learning" (which I don't think I accept anyway).
>Can't "ordinary learning" could be understood as the
>imitation of i-culture ...

By 'ordinary' learning I mean things like classical and
operant conditioning. None of these 'ordinary' learning
mechanisms involve _imitation_ (they arise/are shaped
whithin One organism) - thus they don't involve _imitation_
of i-culture.

>...- if you take i-culture (NB i = instruction) to be the

>functional relationship between two objects of m-culture?

I don't _think_ that's what Cloak says, and I don't
understand why i-culture (def as fn rel btw 2 m-culture)
would make 'ordinary' learning an imitation of i-culture?
>Trial and error is simply the generation and testing of
>relationships (instructions) until one fits (i.e.
>imitates) m-culture.

Ah! I see what you mean. However, I don't _think_
'relationships' and 'instructions' are synonymous (as you
appear to imply). I'm pretty sure that 'fits' and
'imitates' aren't synonymous either! That's not what I
would call imitation anyway.

>What I am to say is that, from Cloak's position, can't all
>learning can be understood as imitation?

No, not imitation - perhaps _selection_?. There can be
more than one level of selection going on. Shaping and
fitting responses to the environment I think is like a
Dennet's Popperian creature. There is selection going on,
but it's entirely internal to a single organism.

When shaping and fitting responses to the environment are
shared between organisms (which it seems only humans do
well) then I would call that imitation. Then I think you
get natural selection (rather than say, neural selection)
shaping the behaviours. Then you get memes.

Cloak's theory relates to selection events at the i-culture
and m-culture level. What I think is interesting is the
way he describes i-culture shaping m-culture shaping
i-culture ... etc etc. I think this requires the ability
to imitate (rather than individually learn) ... but I think
some more about it :)

Nick Rose
"University of the West of England"

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)