Re: memetics-digest V1 #137

t (Mario.Vaneechoutte@rug.ac.be)
Fri, 29 Jan 1999 14:48:34 +0100

From: <Mario.Vaneechoutte@rug.ac.be>
Date: Fri, 29 Jan 1999 14:48:34 +0100
To: memetics@mmu.ac.uk
Subject: Re: memetics-digest V1 #137

UEA wrote:

> 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.
>
> Alex.

Dear Alex and Bruce,

If you ask me as a biologist: a virus can't replicate itself. It depends on the cellular machinery of a host to be replicated. So do
plasmids, and so do behaviours, ideas, fashions. Although from an informational point of view, I since a few years do not consider the latter
as memes (the analogs of genes).

Mario Vaneechoutte.

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