RE: A more "sciency"-sounding mysticism.

Richard Brodie (
Wed, 31 Mar 1999 16:15:45 -0800

From: "Richard Brodie" <>
To: <>
Subject: RE: A more "sciency"-sounding mysticism.
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 16:15:45 -0800
In-Reply-To: <>

"Jake" wrote:

<<Then let's just concentrate on how genes and memes might create genuine
agents, instead of "illusions".>>

Both "meme" and "gene" are DEFINED to be agents in a sense. They are defined
to be types of replicators. Replicators are things whose presence in a
certain environment tends to correlate with an increase in the presence of
that same replicator in that same environment in the future. Most writers on
memetics have chosen to define "meme" as a replicator present in minds. Most
also point out the presence of cultural replicators outside the mind, but
which interact with human minds during the course of their replication. I
call those "viruses of the mind."

<<Certainly if memes are entirely "in the brain", they will remain
for long time to come.>>

When you say "remain philosophical" are you implying that the theory will
not be useful to engineers? I don't see how this is so. Even now,
advertising designers are attempting to create memes and meme packages that
will sell their products. The fact that "meme" is defined as a replicator in
a mind does not mean that it has no effect outside the mind.

In general, though, I think it is a trap to place too much emphasis on the
replication of the meme itself, and this may be exactly your point. In the
course of writing my book it became clear to me that meme replication is
less interesting that mind-virus replication in the same way that study of
whole organisms (and the potential for designing new ones!) is more
interesting that the study of individual genes, except in rare cases such as
genetically transmitted diseases. However, the more we understand individual
genes and memes, the better job we can do at genetic and memetic

<<how you would give up on
free will.>>

I would give up on it if I couldn't see any way to use the concept to make
useful predictions.

Richard Brodie
Author, "Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme"
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