Re: Ontology (was Meme Conference)

Robin Faichney (
Mon, 17 May 1999 15:43:17 +0100

Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 15:43:17 +0100
From: Robin Faichney <>
Subject: Re: Ontology (was Meme Conference)
In-Reply-To: <>

In message <>,
>Robin Faichney wrote:
>> I'd like to suggest that, though the meme does of course ultimately
>> material resources, its immediate environment is information
>> capacity. Genetic information can be considered to manipulate
>> processes so as to ensure its survival beyond the demise of its
>> substrate. Analogously, memetic information, originally encoded only
>> within nervous systems but eventually also in artefacts, manipulates
>> organisms' information processing so as to ensure its survival beyond
>> the demise of its substrate.
>> Unfortunately, if the ontological proof of genes is DNA, then there
>> cannot be a parallel for memes,
>Oh no? How about printed and electronic texts?

As I said, artefacts do encode memes. Whether that constitutes
ontological proof is another matter. I don't want to argue with you --
personally, I have a very similar vision -- though I'm not quite so
speculatively-inclined! But ultimately, the question becomes: what will
actually convince people? It seems to me that, as informational items
that, unlike genes, are not tied to a particular substrate or encoding,
memes are more likely to catch on in the role of explanatorily powerful
theoretical entity, than that of actual object. We need to evolve
beyond the concerns of naive realism, and see that memetics needs our
help to become a successful memeplex. This sort of boot-strapping seems
much more interesting to me than that of self-reproducing machines. And
it surely is naive to insist that only directly observable entities can
be legitimate scientific concepts. In fact, I think a case could
probably be made that ontology reduces to explanatory power, anyway.

Incidentally, I'd suggest that evolution beyond naive realism would
allow those memeticists who are not Buddhists, or thus inclined, to
accept Blackmore's message as meaning that the only place for the self
IN MEMETICS is that of a highly successful memeplex. There being more
to life, of course, than memetics!

Robin Faichney
Visit The Conscious Machine at

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