Re: Zenification of memetics

Thu, 15 Apr 1999 16:24:22 GMT

Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1999 16:24:22 GMT
From: UEA <>
Subject: Re: Zenification of memetics

Aaron wrote:

>>In particular, I think that the Zenification of memetics
is a mistake. Zen has evolved and spread through a selection
process drastically different from what is well suited to
science. (See my comments in the Zen thread. view Zen as a
topic to which to apply memetics theory, not something to
incorporate into the theory.) On reading in the preface that
Dawkins and Dennett gave guidance to Blackmore's project, I
am actually rather surprised that they did not steer her
away from incorporated Zen in a major way. I would have
expected them to recognize the risk of Zenification
making memetics look flaky to skeptical, critical
scientists. So I would have thought they would exert a more
scientifically conservative influence--even if they
themselves are privately Zen Buddhists.<<

Yes. If you read Dawkins' foreword you'll see he gets a bit
apologist towards the end. Anyway, he can't really tell
Blackmore what to do. Once again, Joe's point comparing
memetics with behaviourism and other "new" sciences that
were taken to extremes does bear out. In order for Dawkins
to escape determinism as a result of Selfish Gene Theory, he
introduced memetics. Blackmore embraces determinism and ends
up with Zen.

There are however many good bits to glean from Meme Machine:

1. She does a great job of postulating how the mind evolved
the way it did because of memes (not really my side of
2. She gives an excellent overview and introduction to
3. She provides some interesting thoughts on meme-gene
4. And most of all she solves the problem of poor
replication (Lamarckism) in memes by creating the
delineation between copy-the-instructions and

So I have a suggestion. Since we all agree that Blackmore's
conclusions on the nature of self are erroneous, let's start
discussing the other stuff.

problems with copy-the-instructions versus copy-the-product

cheers, alex.

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