Re: reductionism in memetics

Ilfryn PRICE (
Thu, 21 Jan 1999 15:47:28 -0000

From: (Ilfryn PRICE)
Date: Thu, 21 Jan 1999 15:47:28 -0000
Subject: Re: reductionism in memetics

Rob, when you say

> And If Price wrote:

>> I am starting to wonder (work submitted to JoM-EMIT) whether we
>> should see 'choosing' - making different responses to environmental
>> stimuli - and 'learning' as basically part of the hardware - a good
>> trick in genetic possibility space, and 'stuckness' (all the stuff of
>> group think, social contagion, mental models etc) as memetic.

>I think any model that bases its concepts in the software-hardware
>analogy to the mind-brain will soon find itself unable to fit into the
>"graded" picture that is developing of higher brain function from the
>neurosciences and cognitive psychology (etc.). The (dis)analogy has
>caused artificial intelligence crippling problems in its attempts to
>understand human minds (as part of cognitive science) and it will do the
>same for memetics unless we avoid the laziness of a dichotomic
>differentiation between "high-level" and "lower-level" brain function.

I admit to the word hardware but did not use software. I guess I am more
interested in the boundary between geneware and memeware because the two
replication mechanisms do strike me as different.

>The problems with the s/w-h/w analogy have been written about before,
>but the falacy persists and so needs re-addressing regularly! I discuss
>the problems with particular reference to memetics (along with some
>related points) in my forthcoming paper. A version awaiting a few
>stylistic changes is on my web page, before submission to JoM. However,
>the section relevant to my points here appears in its final form.

I visited the page but could not find which specific bit of text you were
revferring to. I flagged the complexity stuff to return to later. At the moment
I am wrestling with Pinker who claims direct software analogies. His
distinction seems to be software and geneware.

BTW My gut feel remains that memetics will make more progress at the
organisational level.


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