Date: Fri, 05 Feb 1999 18:50:18 -0500
From: "Robert G. Grimes" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Papers critical of memetics
I really like Aaron's definition of a meme and I think that we all could live
with that for a long time.
Now we can argue if the distinction between highly contagious memes and Blah
memes is in the amount and kind of neurotransmitters that are stimulated by the
particular meme construct when it is within the brain and when it is accessed
into consciousness. Of course, I wouldn't argue a lot about that as I feel that
is a very promising path to discerning between memes and their potential for
Aaron Lynch wrote:
> At 09:44 PM 2/5/99 -0000, Paul Marsden wrote:
> >How do you define a meme in Thought Contagion, as opposed to formalisms in
> >your technical papers?
> >Whilst I hate the blobs in trolleys and box messages in Virus of the Mind as
> >much as anyone else, Richard's definition of a meme captures both the
> >subtlety of Cloak's Causal Logic of Natural Selection (1986)
> >(self-embedding) and is clear, and simple
> >A meme is a unit of information in a mind whose existence influences events
> >such that more copies of itself get created in other minds.
> >Whilst simple, this *working* definition is flexible and inclusive - (even
> >if I have a problem with things in minds as opposed to heuristics to
> >understand behaviour), and his speculations on the action of memes are a
> >good deal more modest that some accounts I have read. How does the TC
> >definition stack up?
> I have no problem with substituting the informal definition above for the
> online statement that "Memes are the basic building blocks of our minds and
> culture, in the same way that genes are the basic building blocks of
> biological life." The online statement, incidentally, mirrors one of those
> box messages (p. 36) that "The most interesting thing about memes is not
> whether they're true or false; its that they are the building-blocks of
> your mind." I consider these statements extravagant and untenable whether
> presented as FAQ items or box messages. (Memes do, however, play a
> *substantial role* in building what we call "the mind." The problem in a
> FAQ format is worse, since the statement there can be easily read as a
> My book does not go into formally defining "meme" at all, leaving it merely
> as "an actively contagious idea." I had wanted to include the material from
> my 1998 JoM-EMIT paper as an appendix. The definition there is equivalent
> to the definition in my 1991 paper. But my editor found such material too
> technical even for an appendix. Needless to say, I am not happy with that
> situation. However, the paperback of TC has a preface that refers readers
> to my web page for links to more technical material.
> For technical usage, there is a subtle problem with defining "meme" as a
> unit of information in the mind, as this seems to presuppose that there are
> already generally *recognized* units of information in the mind. I believe
> this is one of the tacit irritants to Polichak and others. Hence my
> technical definition does not contain the word "unit." It also does not
> contain the word "mind," or even pre-suppose that "minds" exist. It does,
> however, suppose that there is neurally-stored information that can be at
> least indirectly observed.
> MEME: A memory item, or portion of an organism's neurally-stored
> information, identified using the abstraction system of the observer, whose
> instantiation depended critically on causation by prior instantiation of
> the same memory item in one or more other organisms' nervous systems.
> ("Sameness" of memory items is determined with respect to the
> above-mentioned abstraction system of the observer.)
> --Aaron Lynch
> This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
> Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
> For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
> see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit
-- Bob Grimes
http://members.aol.com/bob5266/ http://www.hotwired.com/members/profile/bobinjax/ http://www.phonefree.com/Scripts/cgiParse.exe?sID=28788 Jacksonville, Florida Bob5266@aol.com firstname.lastname@example.org Bobgrimes@zdnetmail.com
Man is not in control, but the man who knows he is not in control is more in control...
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore....."
=============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit