Re: i-culture and m-culture

Nick Rose (
Thu, 24 Sep 1998 10:31:16 -0400 (EDT)

From: Nick Rose <>
Subject: Re: i-culture and m-culture
In-Reply-To: <>
Message-Id: <>
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 10:31:16 -0400 (EDT)

Paul Marsden wrote

>>>Trial and error is simply the generation and testing of
>>>relationships (instructions) until one fits (i.e.
>>>imitates) m-culture.

Nick Rose wrote

>>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.

Paul Marsden wrote

>Okay, sorry, I put it sloppily. Let me think this one
>through out loud. Cloak refers to an individual's
>"cultural repertoire" as i-culture (note 7 p169), ie "a
>set of cultural instructions", that manifest themselves in
>the environment as m-culture, which in turn cue i-culture.


>Basically i-culture codes for a specific SR cycle (a
>behavioural cue will elicit a certain behavioural
>response). Now what I was trying to tentatively suggest is
>that imitation is central to both social/observational
>learning and individual (e.g. operant conditioning)
>learning within this paradigm because both involve copying
>relationships between m-culture, and storing them qua

Copying something about the individual's relationship with
the environment into their head? I think that's too
abstract for 'imitation'. If I pick my nose with my thumb
and you see me and do the same - then you have imitated me
- your action is the 'same kind of shape' as mine.
What is the 'same kind of shape' in your examples?

>This copying involves the internalisation, qua i-culture,
>of relations between objectified m-culture. In social
>learning, stimulus and third party response must both be
>m-culture, and the relationship between the two is copied
>qua i-culture by the observer. No Problem - social
>learning has happened i culture has been imitated via

i-culture has not been imitated. Your forgetting that in
social learning that the behaviours are only the sorts of
natural thing the animal would do anyway. If you like the
observer _already had_ the i-culture. All that's changed
is that it's cueing on a slightly different stimulus.

>Now in operant conditioning, the generation of
>the response (variation) by the individual must also be
>objectified as m-culture before i-culture is realised.
>i-culture realisation is the process imitating the
>pre-existing relations between the *appropriate* elements
>of m-culture (which are produced through a blind
>exploration of design space). Now these relations all
>exist on nuce, before this realisation in i-culture.
>Therefore whilst i-culture *is* the process of selection
>of the appropriate functional relationship between
>elements of m-culture, it is also imitation because it is
>*copying functional relationships*. From this
>perspective, operant conditioning can surely be understood
>as "imitation through a process of selection", and
>therefore is memetic. Mutatis mutandis, the same would
>apply for classical conditioning.

"Copying functional relationships" - is the problem I
think. It's a very abstract _kind_ of imitation - and
while I'm not certain it's wrong, I harbour suspicions
about it. I'm not sure what you mean ... I assume you mean
that similar relationships between people and things are
imitated. Imitated by what/whom? If you change the word
imitation for 'similar patterns' I think I agree with you.
The reason I don't think it's imitation is because each
instance of the similar pattern has been individually

hmmm... I'll keep thinking on this one.

Nick Rose
"University of the West of England"

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