Re: Where does Blackmore's Replicator Power Come From?

Mark M. Mills (
Mon, 29 Mar 1999 20:05:06 +0100

Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 20:05:06 +0100
From: "Mark M. Mills" <>
Subject: Re: Where does Blackmore's Replicator Power Come From?
In-Reply-To: <000201be79fc$fd692b00$ec4695c1@pc>


At 04:54 PM 3/29/99 +0100, you wrote:
>Now, our brains may be hardwired to appropriate behavioural
>strategies (or any other conceptualisation of a meme you many choose) under
>certain circumstances, and these might be called memes, but that leaves
>memes with an entirely passive role.

Hm.. What does 'entirely passive role' mean? It sounds like you are
dismissing the hardwired brain networks construct for 'lack of activity.'

I'm going to guess that you are calling it 'passive' with respect to the
way a gene serves as template for self-duplication. I guess an assumption
is being made about how these hardwired networks 'come complete at birth,'
and thus serve no role in cultural replication. Is this the passivity that
you allude to?

Assuming I'm close, I'll suggest the 'meme as inherited neural
configuration' can be quite active. A 'hardwired behavior' can just as
easily be a 'desire to acquire language' as an inborn 'fight/flight'
reflex. If we are hardwired to 'acquire language' (an inherited neural
network), and use language to satisfy the need, then a great deal of
evolutionary opportunity is involved.

Keep in mind that our 'initial' hardwired brain networks are greatly
altered by experience. Our brains are literally rewired via axon growth
and axon death. Often these changes are stimulated by sensory perceptions.
Language researchers have shown that a great deal of language acquisition
involves the death of neuron connections, apparently limiting our
linguistic options, but speeding language processing.

It is not hard to conceptualize 'baby memes' rewriting themselves as vast
neural networks in an adult brain. Our innate desire to acquire language
causes vast neural change and these changes are culturally dependent. Once
fully configured, the brain is active in stimulating proper (or improper)
configuration of neural networks in other individuals.

I'd also like to point out that both genes (open reading frames) and memes
(neural networks) require time to be properly configured for playing a role
in their own replication. The time frames are different, hours for DNA and
years for a brain, but both require a rich set of error checking functions
to insure the fidelity of replication.


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