Reality and other memes (was "scientism")

Robin Faichney (
Sat, 10 Apr 1999 09:59:32 +0100

Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 09:59:32 +0100
From: Robin Faichney <>
Subject: Reality and other memes (was "scientism")
In-Reply-To: <>

In message <>, writes
> I had assumed that we both had some agreement on the word "reality", but if
>not, I can't imagine the discussion really going anywhere. If you think
>reality is an illusion, I simply can't even begin to take that seriously.

I don't "really" think reality is an illusion. Nor do I think the self
is an illusion. Both are concepts, memes (as is "illusion"). Both are
apparently intentional, in the philosophical sense of that word, i.e.
they refer to something beyond themselves. My view is that, though
these concepts are indubitably useful in many situations, neither will
stand rigorous analysis. What they refer to is, in neither case, a
coherent entity. The real/illusory dichotomy is far too crude to appear
in any serious theory. As is self vs. other. Except, of course, where
that theory seeks to explain why otherwise intelligent people have such
a strong emotional attachment to these memes that they make the
elementary error (for memeticists, or Buddhists) of "really believing"
in them (allowing the meme to operate in parasitic mode).

By the way, you can easily get a handle on the reality vs. ultimate
reality thing (which I find quite useful in some situations, but not in
others) by thinking of it as theory versus practice. Reality is what we
bump up against in practice, whilst ultimate reality is what remains
after all our best theoretical efforts. Of course, that dichotomy
itself will not survive much analysis. But we might as well face up to
the fact that pragmatism demands propitiation. That's just being
realistic! :-)

Another point, while we're on the subject: Sue Blackmore cannot really
view the self as an illusion, because she does not believe memeplexes to
be illusory. Now, the self-as-other-than-memeplex thing, of course, is
another matter. (Though it's a meme too. Hmmm...)

(I'd be interested to see your own responses to these points, Jake.
Though anyone else is welcome to jump in.)

Robin Faichney

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