Re: Replicating in and out of minds

Bill Benzon (
Thu, 8 Apr 1999 19:40:54 -0400

Message-Id: <>
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 19:40:54 -0400
From: (Bill Benzon)
Subject: Re: Replicating in and out of minds

At 2:20 PM 4/8/99 -0700, Richard Brodie wrote:

>For the sake of clarity, let's keep the word "meme" reserved for replicators
>in the mind. For other cultural replicators, let's use a different term.
>Mind virus, memeplex, cultureme...

This will not do. If one defines a meme as that entity in cultural
evolution that plays a replicator role analogous to that which the gene
plays in biological evolution, then the question of whether or not memes
are in the mind/brain is not a matter of definition. It is a matter of how
cultural evolution works. That is an empirical question.

I realize that, in saying this, I'm saying that Dawkins doesn't understand
how cultural evolution works. Columbus thought he landed in the Indies,
but he was wrong. Dawkins thinks memes are in the mind/brain, but he is
wrong; he's linking the term he coined to the wrong entities.

I've already explained why I think that the meme, thus defined, is in the
environment, not in the mind/brain. I don't think my argument are at all
definitive; but I'm not at all impressed by the arguments for the orthodox
position. However, I don't want to go through that yet one more time.

But I don't think empirical matters can be settled by calls for consistent
use of terms.

William L. Benzon 201.217.1010
708 Jersey Ave. Apt. 2A
Jersey City, NJ 07302 USA

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