RE: A more sciency sounding mysticism

Gatherer, D. (
Wed, 31 Mar 1999 16:37:36 +0200

Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 16:37:36 +0200
From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <>
Subject: RE: A more sciency sounding mysticism
To: "''" <>

-----Original Message-----
From: MicroLab 2 @ SOC, UEA, UK []
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 1999 12:41 PM
Subject: Re: A more sciency sounding mysticism

2. Derek wrote:

Regarding the idea that 'the self' is a meme, it is possible to divest one's
self, eg. by engaging in Zen meditation or by taking ketamine (not
recommended), and one might behave in a 'self-less' manner (but not on this
list). What do you reckon? Is that evidence?

Alex replied:

I think you are asking for some kind of dualism here, Derek; i.e. how can
you be
yourself and not be yourself? answer: by taking ketamine, etc.


Dualism? I don't understand. In most of memetics, there is a dualism of
sorts ie. meme-host. That's what I am opposed to, not what I am in favour

If you do define the self as "a bunch of memes" a la Blackmore, then you
be reduced to thought experiments about a meme-less person;

I'm not sure that I could do that kind of thought experiment because it
pre-supposes that there can be meme-full persons, (the opposite of meme-less
ones). That is what I'm against.

but how would we
know objectively whether a person under the influence of ketamine (or PCP)
doing Zen meditation was actually meme-less?


Again, these arguments are outside of my conception of what memetics is. I
think that quantification of memes 'in' persons is impossible, so there can
be no meme-full, meme-less or intermediate states.


And moreover how would THEY know?
Under this assumption that the self is from memes, doesn't it take a meme to

know a meme?
I think defining the self as that which is conscious (a bit woolly, I know,
it was good enough for Descartes) is more accurate. When you are meditating
on ketamine), you are still conscious, but the consciousness takes a
form. This form might be more "memeless" than everyday thought, I don't
but I think consciousness is the right place to start.
To preclude anything but memes from being part of the self is a bit hasty,
because you start denying things for which their might be evidence (such as
memeless self) because it doesn't corroborate your theory - this is what
calls greedy reductionism.


I'm not sure I can answer any of this, because it's couched within a Dawkins
B framework.

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