Re: Darwinian/Neo-Darwinian, and codes (was Memes and Things)

Mario Vaneechoutte (
Wed, 10 Feb 1999 20:35:19 +0100

Date: Wed, 10 Feb 1999 20:35:19 +0100
From: Mario Vaneechoutte <>
Subject: Re: Darwinian/Neo-Darwinian, and codes (was Memes and Things)

Richard Brodie wrote:

> Mario wrote:
> [RB]
> > And what PACKAGES of ideas -- memeplexes -- social organisms -- viruses of
> > the mind -- have the potential for becoming self-replicating and thus
> > prevalent?
> <<None, because viruses and ideas do not self replicate. Just like ideas and
> behaviours they depend upon the acitivity of replication machinery. All you
> can
> ask is: "Which characteristics do viruses (biological resp. viruses of the
> mind)
> have that cells resp. humans are so eager to replicate them?">>
> Well, by that token nothing really self-replicates.

Well, I tried to explain already several times (see also the symposium)
there is such a self-replicating or maybe better autonomously
duplicating system
on Earth. It originated only once: the first cell. All current cells are
descendants, which leads me to the inevitable conclusion that 'Life' is
a single
4 billion year old organism. Genes themselves are not replicators (and I
that they never have been, pace the RNA-world hypothesis). Culture knows
no such
thing like the cell.(Autonomous duplication does not mean that this
system does
not depend on metabolic sources and energy, it means that it carries all
necessary information + information processors to collect these sources
leads it to split and to make two new systems).

(Here is part of the answer to Derek's "baffledness": this kind of
considerations readily leads away from the sociological considerations
that most
are using the meme concept for.)

> But don't you agree that
> you can take the intentional stance effectively with cultural viruses such
> as evangelistic religions, multilevel marketing groups, and chain letters.
> You would still ask the question you suggest, although I wouldn't use the
> word "eager"---more frequently it a matter of unconscious "hot buttons"
> being pushed or simple infection through conditioning.

No problems at all. Just that I thought that we behave eagerly when our
buttons are pushed. But maybe I used the wrong word.

> <<Well, when we gain insight in the relationship between our psychology and
> the
> memes populating our society, we might educate our children with the
> insights in
> how memes influence our behaviour, and such companies will no longer be very
> successful. Who knows we might stop this crazy tredmill of overconsumption,
> reinforced by commercials.>>
> Hear hear.

(Makes me think about the fabulous English TV series 'You rang, my
Lord?'. It is
what Little Henry always said.)

> I wish I had your faith though.

Well, it is not as much faith - I am rather realistic/pessimistic -, it
is just
my conclusion that 'memetic' education is probably our only way out of
our own

Mario Vaneechoutte (don't try to pronounce it when you don't speak

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