Re: A more "sciency"-sounding mysticism.

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Wed, 31 Mar 1999 20:51:18 EST

From: <>
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 20:51:18 EST
Subject: Re: A more "sciency"-sounding mysticism.

In a message dated 3/31/99 6:27:41 PM Central Standard Time, writes:

<< <<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.>>

No, at this point, I am not talking about memes, but rather memetics.
Advertising designers have always designed good memes long before anyone ever
called them "memes". The question might really be, what more can a "science"
of memetics do for the advertiser that she wasn't already doing? Except
perhaps imbue her professional self image with a more sciency sounding
mysticism (which actually might be detrimental if she is trying to connect to
an audience that isn't among this mystical "elite").

>>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

You know, this is sort of the revelation that hit me a little while back. We
already have a very participatory study of memetics - in terms of replication
of memotypes. It's the market economy. That's what a market is all about -
replicating those items and cultural manifestations that are best suited to
replicate. It can be measured very precisely and very objectively. And
perhaps this is the problem with people talking all mystically about something
in the brain. Otherwise we might have to concede that right now it is really
the memeticist who needs to learn so much from the business person, the
advertiser, and the economist, not they who need to learn from the memeticist.

Perhaps a rough picture of what memetics in the future might really look like,
would be a fusion of economics and cognitive science. I dunno, just a guess.

>><<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.<<

Is that the only purpose of a concept? Why would we want to make a prediction
in the first place? I am not saying we wouldn't, but I am asking why.


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