Re: Ontology (and the culture-meme-mind interface)

Dan Plante (
Sun, 23 May 1999 17:45:34 -0700

Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 17:45:34 -0700
From: Dan Plante <>
Subject: Re: Ontology (and the culture-meme-mind interface)
In-Reply-To: <>
Message-Id: <>

At 06:53 PM 18/05/99 -0400, Jake Sapien wrote:

>The existence of selves are not reducible to merely successful
>meme-complexes. Not only is that greedy reductionism, but it is also

I have no quarrel with reductionism (even "greedy" reductionism), as long
as it is balanced with a healthy dose of synthesis (putting together of
parts) to check for correspondence with reality. I agree in this case
though, that it is a misattribution.

> Undeniably the existence of selves has profound impact on
>memetic/cultural evolution, and in turn memetics plays an important role, in
>determining the characters of selves.
>But "having a self" (perhaps "selfishness"?) itself is not a meme. It is
>resultant of a degree of complex awareness which is inscribed not only
>memetically, but also and initially genetically into each human organism.

As far as ascribing the phenomenon of "mind" or "awareness" solely to memes
is concerned, I have to agree. When viewing the mind, at a specific level
of functional abstraction, as the emergent "thing" that arises out of the
dynamic interplay between memory, intellect and emotion, it becomes evident
that the previous interpretation cannot be correct, since it attributes
only one aspect of the mind (memory/memes) with cognitive awareness, and
relegates the rest of it (intellect and emotion) to a kind of neutral
substrate upon which memes operate. This ignores the fact that the basic
operational unit of culture is the individual mind which, as a thing which
is *greater* than the sum of its parts, cannot be treated simply as the sum
of its parts (or, as in this case, one of its parts). It should also be
seen that, without intellect and emotion, the causality of individual
actions cannot be traced solely through memes.


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)