Re: Out-takes as credit roll

joe dees (
Wed, 14 Apr 1999 01:07:06 -0400

Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: Out-takes as credit roll
From: "joe dees" <>
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 01:07:06 -0400

At Tue, 13 Apr 1999 22:06:25 +0100, you wrote:
>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).
This conundrum is easily resolved, when we remember that genes have, for most of their history, propagated in an environment bereft of intentionality, the natural environment, and only recently have a tiny percentage of their carriers evolved self-awareness and intentionality. Memes, OTOH, have also blindly evolved, but for their entire development, they have conducted their evolution in a self-aware and intentional environment, i.e. where the self-conscious intentionality of the host has from their beginning been part and part of the selection pressure, and a challenge/opportunity omnipresent in the memetic environment. It is no surprise that they appear to possess a pernicious cognitive parasitism bordering on intentionality, even though they themselves aren't sentient; we, the intentionally self-aware species Homo Sapiens, are the niche in which they have evolved, and to which such evolution has blindly but selectively adapted.
>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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>Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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Joe E. Dees
Poet, Pagan, Philosopher

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This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)