RE: Generalizing symbolic memetics

Gatherer, D. (
Tue, 02 Mar 1999 09:09:14 +0100

Date: Tue, 02 Mar 1999 09:09:14 +0100
From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <>
Subject: RE: Generalizing symbolic memetics
To: "''" <>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Aaron Lynch []
> Sent: Monday, March 01, 1999 11:14 PM
> To:
> Subject: RE: Generalizing symbolic memetics
> This is not so much a change of mind about what sorts of things I
> consider
> to be memes.
The above sentence doesn't seem to make sense, 'not so
much....', meaning not so much as what?

> However, the generalization of the event diagrams to cover
> things I do not consider memes may help demonstrate what those
> diagrams are
> about: transitions in the population. I believe that at least some
> behaviorists can agree that there are instances of Hutterites becoming
> non-Hutterites. If we are not modeling this as involving someone
> converting
> the Hutterite out, we can represent this rather dryly with the
> statement
> "Hutterite transitions to non-Hutterite." In symbolic shorthand, this
> becomes H --> ~H. This can happen with or without the person
> practicing
> (internally or externally) anything we might call a "propositional
> operation."
Is it a calculus of mnemon instantiations or isn't it? I'm
going to press you on this one, Aaron, because I think you're trying to
wriggle out from under the argument.

> I also suspect that at least some behaviorists can seriously consider
> the
> possibility that a non-Hutterite Marxist influences (e.g., conditions)
> a
> Hutterite non-Marxist to become a non-Hutterite non-Marxist. Now
> writing
> all those details out longhand becomes more cumbersome, hence the
> shorthand: ~H*M + H*~M --> ~H*M + ~H*~M.
Again, you use your calculus of mnemon instantiations. But is
it now a calculus of non-mnemon instantiations?

> I happen to still think that it is useful to use abstractions based on
> the
> notion of internally stored information, but that is a long argument
> we are
> unlikely to resolve.
You started this thread, so you're not going to have the
opportunity of just stopping it in such a way. The use of abstractions
based on internally stored information is something you are going to
have to justify in more detail.

> Nevertheless, it is possible to represent transitions
> symbolically even if the symbols refer to behavioral patterns rather
> than
> indirectly observed internal information.
But then is it a caclulus of mnemon instantiations or isn't it?
This represents a major shift in your position, Aaron, so you're going
ot have to stop obfuscating and tell us whether you still hold by the
contents of your much attacked 1998 paper or not.

> Clearly, the term "calculus of mnemon instantations" would not do when
> talking about behavior patterns (abstractions about people's behavior,
> whether they are called "memes" or not). Another term would have to be
> used
> for generalized use of the diagrams. Perhaps "calculus of culture
> instantiations" or some such would work better for the generalization.
Aha! So you want it to be a calculus of menmon instantiations
when it suits you, but a calculus of non-mnemon instantiations when you
find the internalist stance to be untenable (which it is most of the

> Even
> if *I* prefer to talk about abstractions of memory content, the
> general
> method of working with cultural transition diagrams does not need to
> refer
> to memory.
So why, pray tell, do you place so much emphasis on it?????

> (Although as a terminological point, I only use the term "meme"
> in reference to memory content or internally stored information.)
But why???? Strikes me that you made a bad choice and now you
want to cut your losses and run without losing face.


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