Re: memetics-digest V1 #137

Fri, 29 Jan 1999 13:04:05 GMT

Date: Fri, 29 Jan 1999 13:04:05 GMT
From: UEA <>
Subject: Re: memetics-digest V1 #137

bruce wrote:

> 1e. How exactly are memes like or unlike viruses, computer or biological?

Viruses are self-replicating, memes are replicated by other beings to
whom they give some advantage.

This definitional distinction rests on Dennett's Cui Bono? question, and this is very difficult to test empirically. How are you going to
do the proper cost-benefit analysis to determine whether something was replicated because it advantaged some "other being" (note also
that some reductionists don't even believe in this question - the only "advantage" is that of the meme itself).

A similar definition to get around this problem might be that a meme is something that CANNOT physically replicate itself - it needs
something else - a meme carrier of sorts - in order to be replicated. Although viruses need "hosts", they can physically replicate
themselves, they don't rely on an extra machine or carrier (a phenotype?) to do it for them.


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