Re: Personal Constructs and Memes

Hans-Cees Speel (
Wed, 2 Jun 1999 09:56:19 +0200

From: "Hans-Cees Speel" <>
Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 09:56:19 +0200
Subject: Re: Personal Constructs and Memes
Message-Id: <>

I see that i was replying to a reply and not to the original mail of Bill.
But that changes little of my understanding I am afraid.

> Well that is my ten minute version of 25 years, Are there any parallels
> between personal constructs and memes?
> Bill

I am not sure yet, but i can think of a number of common questions
but also of a number of similarities and dissimilarities between
personal constructs and memes as I grasp 'personal construct' at
the moment.

First of all I research the evolution of concepts in policy making.
This means that I look for instance in a policy field in a specific
issue and study how the use and importance of 'democracy' is
discussed. In this you see that the word first of all is a description
for parts of the institutional political or decision making system. But
there are differences with different people in how they define
democracy. According to the ideas of democracy the institutional
system is changed toward for instance more efficiency.

It can be observed that the historical meme democracy is often
attached to memes as 'right of setting the budget' , 'right of
amendment' and 'right of initiative'.

In my studies the board of a university wants to abolish these rights
for whatever reasons, officially because they want to have more
'decision power' so they can 'react swiftly and determined' to the
'changing world around the university'.

To do this, the board wants to abolish the rights of the elected
council and give them the right to 'disagree'. If they disagree they
can go to a comittee that then decides. The board stil says this is
democratic because the elected members 'have influence in the
policy making process'.

You can see how two different parties (the council disagreed of
course) adhere to a different set of memes. They both adhere to
democratic, but they attach very different memes to it. I would say
they have a different memeplex. This can be explained partially by
what they want politically. The board wants more power, and the
council does not want to give that.
The interesting thing is that they both have elaborate systems of
reasoning why their versionis right, and they are not able to really
discuss their constructs.

As you can see constrcuts in these examples are memes because
they are historical and replicated. See my paper in JOM for the
formal concepts of replication, and so on in this regard.
For memetics the question can be (anyone can add questions of
course) why certain memes 'make it' into accepted proposals (or
into personal constructs) and others don't. The second question is
why? This second one is a lot more difficult of course.

Now are constructs always memes? I would say only when they are
copied from others in some way. Not when they are made up and
thus not replicated. In my paper i als described a meme that evolves
in a brain from one meaning to the other. i called such a meme a
weasiling lineage, because the meme appears to stay the same, but
in fact changes in meaning.

This does not mean that a construct that is not a meme cannot play
a role in selecting memes becuase they are inconsistent with them.
Memes (or beliefs in the truth of memes of ideas) as filters are a
common theme, although with 'very, very! little empirical
underpinning (as far as I know that is).

These are questions and definitions for me, and I would love to hear



Theories come and go, the frog stays [F. Jacob]
Hans-Cees Speel
Managing Editor "Journal of Memetics Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission"

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|Technical University Delft, Jaffalaan 5 2600 GA Delft PO Box 5015 The Netherlands
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