A more (?)

Robin Faichney (robin@faichney.demon.co.uk)
Wed, 7 Apr 1999 12:29:31 +0100

Date: Wed, 7 Apr 1999 12:29:31 +0100
To: memetics@mmu.ac.uk
From: Robin Faichney <robin@faichney.demon.co.uk>
Subject: A more (?)
In-Reply-To: <199904071057.GAA29622@smtp4.mindspring.com>

In message <199904071057.GAA29622@smtp4.mindspring.com>, Bill Benzon
<bbenzon@mindspring.com> writes
>I wouldn't put myself in the anti-self camp. What multiple personality
>suggests to me is that the self is a CONSTRUCTION. But constructions can
>be quite real and functional. They can also be flawed.
>It seems to me that memetic anti-selfhood is a consequence of belief in the
>autonomous agency of memes. The brain is just a garage full of memes who
>have muscled their way in and now compete with oneanother for floor space.
>Among those memes, of course, is the self meme. And we also have various
>anti-self memes who want to drive the self meme out of the garage.
>Oh those pesky memes!

This is a very good point: belief in memetic agency militates against
belief in the agency of the self. To contend that either one is simply
real, and the other simply illusory, looks rather unsustainable. But
consider agency as relative -- what is "active", is whatever you are
most interested in, so this is precisely the same distinction as between
figure and ground -- and these difficulties dissolve. "What is
ultimately real" is meaningless. What we do have is a rich choice of
explanatory frameworks, the selection of the "best" being entirely
context-dependent. Is this postmodernism? I haven't read much in such
areas, but this kind of view has been steadily gaining ground in my
mind, at least, for many years.

To sum up: Blackmore is right in that "the self" is not ultimately real,
but then nothing else is either. Jake is right that it remains a highly
useful concept, at least, and perhaps an indispensable one. There is no
necessary conflict there.

Robin Faichney

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