Re: Reality and other memes

t (
Sat, 10 Apr 1999 17:16:22 EDT

From: <>
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 17:16:22 EDT
Subject: Re: Reality and other memes

In a message dated 4/10/99 2:20:12 PM Central Daylight Time, writes:

<< In message <>, writes
>In a message dated 4/10/99 5:19:10 AM Central Daylight Time,
> writes:
><< 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. >>
>Yes, they are ABOUT something, or in other words they are representations.

Nope. There's a difference between reference and representation.
Representations are a subset of references, that in some sense "picture"
their referents. References in general do not do so.>>

Okay, that is a distinction that I hadn't though of, and still isn't clear to
me for the purposes you make it. I wouldn't think, however that a
representation necessarily "picture" anything. Though if invited to make a
distinction, I would say that representations would be more complex than a
mere referent. In terms of academic citiation, if I gave you a reference, in
some manner am I not also representing that the information does indeed refer
to something else, and perhaps within the context of our discussion, I might
be taken to be representing far more - like for instance that it supports my
position, and that it is relevant to what we are discussing, and so on.

>>>As far as representations are concerned, there is always some degree of
>analysis that they will not be able to withstand. This is true of all
>representations - not because they refer to illusions or unreality, but
>because no representation is perfect. The reason is because they are not
>never will be identical to the thing represented.

This is all irrelevant because these memes are references, but not
representations. Far from being identical to it, a pointer need have no
structural similarity whatsoever to what it points at, and yet perform
its task perfectly.<<

I am not sure that it is irrelevant. I am still not sure that
representations need be "pictures" which your insistence on "structural
similarity" seems to still be driving at. A definition in a dictionary, or
an entry in an encyclopedia is a representation, and has little or no
structural similarity to the thing that it represents. When I present a
check for purchase, I am making a representation - that my bank balance is
sufficient to cover the amount without conflicting with other financial
obligations. But there is no structural similarity between my representation
and the thing represented that I can discern. It does not give a perfect
representation of my entire bank balance and obligations, but it is
sufficient for its purposes.

>>It is an interesting feature of intentionality that the referent need not
even exist. A classic example is Santa Claus.<<

Indeed the subject of a representation need not exist either. We can draw
pictures of Santa Clause as well. Though I am still not sure that "pictures"
or "structural similarity" are *necessary* for "representations", I think we
both seem to agree that they are *sufficient*.

>>Selves and reality are not quite like that, but neither are they like
"this table" -- they are neither entirely fictional, nor actual objects,
but concepts that gain what usefulness they have due to their
relationships with other concepts, rather than their reference to
anything non-conceptual.<<

Is a scheme of control non-conceptual? What about biological homeostasis,
the result of biological schemes of control? Are patterns non-conceptual? -
If something requires a conceptual faculty to recognize (like patterns and
schemes of control) does that mean that mean that they are "illusions". It
doesn't make sense for any purposes that I have encountered to treat these
things like "illusions". And yet even those people who might claim that they
are "illusions" obviously engage these things for the same purposes that I
do, and therefore contradict their very assertion of "illusion". Perhaps
calling them "illusions" is part of some mystical metaphysical performance
that they are engaged in, but obviously this performance is not sustainable
as a normal mode of functioning.

>>>>>What they refer to is, in neither case, a coherent entity.<<
>Certainly they refer to a complex entity, but I don't suppose the
>imperfection of the representation to indicate the unreality of the thing

I said these referents are not "coherent". That is not equivalent to
saying they're "complex".<<

I know. I didn't intend that they were equivalent, and I was conscious of
what you actually said.

>>>>>The real/illusory dichotomy is far too crude to appear in any serious
>I think it can be made uncrude for appropriate purposes...

In other words, reality vs. illusion is context-dependent, a matter of
pragmatics, which is exactly what I said. Thanks for your support.

Robin Faichney


If I actually supported your position, you are welcome to it. I am not sure that I did, however, and I am now not convinced that I even know what your position is. You invoked some other thing that you called "ultimate reality" and said something like that in "ultimate reality" everything is an illusion. This statement does not sound like it acknowleges any context dependence what-so-ever. This is even more puzzeling in light of your latest claim of my support. I still don't know what "ultimate reality" means when you say it.

Even your practical/theoretical distinctions serve some context-dependent purposes. Theoretical endeavors are undertaken for greater fitness and fineness of practical endeavors. Unless of course you desire escape from practical endeavor completely. If escape is necessary for understanding "ultimate reality", then I will just have to wait for, or hasten death, since that is the only complete escape. As you can imagine, I have no real interest in that. I would assume that by then, I will be well beyond any opportunities to benefit to the study of memetics, and as you can imagine I hold no belief that any knowlege would follow from such an escape. Which is why I have been pointing out the mystical qualities that proponents of S. Blackmore's book have been spouting out all over here. I really think that these mystical ideas are a genuine setback for any hopes for a useful science of memetics. Of course there may never be such a thing anyways.


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