Re: Out-takes as credit roll

Robin Faichney (
Tue, 13 Apr 1999 22:06:25 +0100

Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 22:06:25 +0100
From: Robin Faichney <>
Subject: Re: Out-takes as credit roll
In-Reply-To: <008f01be85ee$2585f800$2ca1bfce@proftim>

In message <008f01be85ee$2585f800$2ca1bfce@proftim>, Tim Rhodes
<> writes
>Bill Benzon wrote:
>>This is all well and good, but you are talking about Jackie Chan and about
>>these other folks as though they themselves made decisions, as though they
>>were trying to accomplish something. In orthodox memetics such talk seems
>>to be forbidden. It's the meme's that do all the acting. These people are
>>just vehicles for the memes. Any sense that they are doing anything for
>>their reasons is pure illusion.
>But you must remember that one of important factors in the propigation of a
>meme is the propagators belief (for whatever reason) that reproducing the
>meme will benifit they're (purhaps illusionary) self-interests. The
>presumed utility of the meme to the user/used are the phermones that drive
>the indiviual to reproduce it.

Remember, too, that at least equally effective for memes as self-
interest are the "just fun" tactic, and the "just can't help it" one
(e.g. humming a catchy tune).

But in general terms, where we try to keep our methods consistent, these
are mutually exclusive explanatory frameworks. You can adopt the
intentional stance towards people or towards memes, but not towards both
at one time, it would seem. Or not if you value rigour, anyway. Of
course you can also abjure intentionality altogether and insist there's
nothing but blind mechanism, but don't try that one at home, folks.
(Actually, pure memetic intentionality probably needs to be confined to
the lab too.)

What interests me just now is the relationship between explanatory
frameworks. Especially where, as here, it seems frameworks are,
logically, mutually exclusive, but nevertheless we feel we really need
items from more than one of them. There are three options open: (1) we
ditch some of these items, choosing one framework for all purposes and
forgetting the others; or (2) we insist on consistency within any given
context, but are willing to use different frameworks in different
contexts; or (3) we relax even more and mix concepts from different
frameworks within one context. As in the Church of Virus scenario in
which we have to constantly be on our guard against those wily memes.
Which I'm sure is very often a useful attitude. Personally, I reckon we
need to ditch (1) as hopelessly impractical, and choose dynamically
between (2) and (3) as the occasion seems to demand, depending mainly on
its position along the theoretical/pragmatic dimension. (Assuming the
memes let us choose, that is!)

But do remember, if you follow Dennett anyway, that intentionality is
just a stance -- as, I think, is belief in deterministic blind

Robin Faichney
Visit The Conscious Machine at

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