Re: Memes and associative learning in neurons

Steve (
Fri, 06 Nov 1998 22:36:52 +0800

Message-Id: <>
Date: Fri, 06 Nov 1998 22:36:52 +0800
From: Steve <>
Subject: Re: Memes and associative learning in neurons
In-Reply-To: <>

At 01:18 PM 11/6/98 +0000, Martin de Jong wrote:
>Stephen ( 3 November wrote)
>> - thus, my body parts and their actions are also memes)
>Derek replied:
>>Is there anything which isn't a meme in your theory? Pardon me if
>>this seems to be flippant. It isn't intended to be so. I just
>>worry that your net is cast so wide it will catch virtually
>I tend to agree with Derek here. The best way to weaken a theoretical
>approach is to claim it applies to anything and everything.It quickly
>loses its credibility that way. If a meme has been defined a
>replicator of cultural ideas (be they concepts, images, smells, i.e.
>anything tangible by senses), it is risky to apply it to actions.

As my definition of meme is "anything that can be conceptualised within the
mind of any organism", then it follows that an action that has been decided
and acted upon has been made possible through conceptualisation and,
according to my definition, is a meme. I am not, as a matter of
convenience, "defining away" the word meme as "anything and everything" but
to the contrary, I am trying to be very specific about what it is we are
studying. When all is said and done, the single thing that matters, no
matter what the medium, is the conceptualisation that occurs in our heads.
And if conceptualisation is the subject, then we must consider every type
of event that gets conceptualised - including the actions performed by our

The definition of meme confining it to a cultural unit of imitation loses
sight of the more general, fundamental role of conceptualisation. The truth
is that imitation is one of the ways we choose the things we conceptualise.

>> The only way that complex colonies of neurons can emerge, I propose, is if
>> each neuron made choices from its ecology. These choices are subjective,
>> they are contextual and they are associative. The neuron's interpretation
>> of the world is achieved through its bodily senses (via its synapses),
>> hence, it too, has a mind-body relationship.
>> What I am getting at is that conceptualisation is the stuff of life.
>Stephen would apply this framework to all levels, leading Derek to
>conclude he is a panpsychist. I have no idea what it means to be a
>panpsychist, probably that psyche rules over matter. Personally, I do
>not have the impression that this is what Stephen means (though it
>is of course up to him to give a final judgement). I think he is
>poiting at the fact that mind and matter are inextricably linked.

Actually, in the context of the above excerpt made by me, my focus is on
the nature and essence of conceptualisation, as it applies more generally
to non-human animals. Mobus and Barto take very seriously the notion that
associative conditioning applies to neurons, to the extent that they are
prepared to invest time and money in developing neural net architectures
based on this premise - successful neural-net models that have been shown
to work. In light of this, I infer that neurons conceptualise at some basic
level, and this leads me to consider that if the mind-body relationship is
crucial to conceptualisation at the human level, then an analogous
mind-body relationship, inextricably linking a neuron's body to its
experiences, must also hold at the neural level.

Stephen Springette

Newton's Laws of Emotion:
There can be no complexity without simplicity

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