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Lloyd Robertson (
Sat, 21 Nov 1998 14:05:19 -0600

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Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 14:05:19 -0600
From: Lloyd Robertson <>
Subject: Mail delivery failed: returning message to sender

From Alex (
>>> Date: 19th November 1998
>>> There seems to be a tendency (at least among some of the list members) to
>>> assume that the process of 'imitation' provides a conceptual key to
>>> understanding the formation of human cultures. I would suggest that it is
>>> a very inadequate key.
>Thanks Alex. I share a number of concerns. Altho reductionism can provide
>valuable insites I wonder whether, in the study of memetics, a focus on
>neurons and transmission via imitation results in our "inability to see the
>forest because of all the trees". That tired cliches may be represented as
>a pattern of neural firings and that the above cliche was imitated by X
>number of individuals is of little value. Why the above cliche remained in
>our culture even after it ceased to be novel (i.e. after it became cliche)
>would be of greater interest. The "purpose" that cliche may have in
>maintaining other collections of memes while discriminating against still
>other collections of memes would be of even greater interest. To answer
>these kinds of questions we have to go well beyond the individual.
>I am intrigued by Dennett's suggestion that collectivities of mutually
>reinforcing memes that replicate as units may be seen as some kind of
>ethereal life form. Deliniating these meme structures and studying how they
>perform within our overall culture would be of interest to me. For example,
>I suspect that a number of meme-structures are competing for control of the
>Roman Catholic soul. It would be interesting to study such structures and
>develop a theory that would predict the outcomes of such competitions.
>Much current discussion implies that repetition ensures replication. If
>that were the case then the end result would be one universal meme
>structure and we would stagnate culturally. In fact, I suspect that some
>minds are more susceptable to internalizing particular meme-structures than
>others and that near universal repetition of some meme-structures will not
>ensure their internalization in some minds. It would be of interest to me
>to know why, what forces and mechanisms are at work.

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