Date: Mon, 7 Jun 1999 17:31:12 EDT
Subject: spiritual memetics
In a message dated 6/7/99 11:36:14 AM Central Daylight Time,
>> How do others on this list acknowledge 'spirit' as an influence on life?
I don't think
consciousness is just a chemical occurence, but is connected through the
nature of 'being'. <<
I for one, am very wary about conversations involving "spiritual" matters.
If for no other reason, than that they tend to fall apart over definitions
and starting points before they even begin (even though the participants
often are not aware that they haven't even started to really communicate).
Further they tend to wander into supernatural topics, for which there is no
real basis for discussion other than simple agreement or non-agreement.
Finally they tend to get into typical religious discussions, for which this
list is not necessary - there are plenty of other places in cyberspace to
have a religious discussion.
If you are interested in discussion on this topic, and want to get a memetics
bent to it, you may try the Church of the Virus mailing list. They are more
open to that sort of stuff.
The Church of Virus
<A HREF="http://www.lucifer.com/virus/hb_index.html">The Church of Virus</A>
That much said, I could imagine the possibility that a discussion about
spirituality might work here if the above problems can be avoided. Since the
publication of Susan Blackmore's book, it apparently has become accepted to
talk here about memetics in terms of Buddhism (though I still cannot see that
Buddhism has anything to offer the subject - and anything that it might seems
to be already available under Hume). If that is the status quo, then I
certainly can't see anything in principle wrong with discussing memetics in
terms of spirituality.
I personally refused to use the word "spirituality" for a long time just for
those reasons, but recently I have been more open to discussions using words
like that. After reading some of Nathaniel Branden's writing, I decided to
be more open to discussing spirituality, seeing it actually possible to
discuss without going over the hoary religious positions and
supernaturalisms. Here is something that he wrote in the Art of Living
>>"The word "spirit," in its origins, means "breath." Spirit pertained to
the breath of life. When Aristotle spoke about spirit (or soul", he meant
that by virtue of which an organism is alive. To this day, when we speak of
a person or a horse as "high spirited," we mean full of life. Or when we
speak of a person's spirit being broken, we mean that the person's will to
live self-assertively has been extinguished -- the life force has been
subdued. So on this understanding, "spiritual" would mean pertaining to the
life force or the life principle. However, this is not the primary meaning
the term has for most of us today, although it is how many dictionaries still
This would be my starting point in discussing such matters, though I would
probably proceed differently into memetics than Branden does in the Art of
Living Consciously. There he goes into great depth on the issue of
consciousness. Here I would go more into depth on the issue of *meaning*.
For this is where I think our sense of life as humans intersects with
memetics. Whether or not we think the universe is ultimately meaningful, or
even if we don't concern ourselves with that particular question at all
(which is more of my own preference), meaning, whether it is created or
discovered, is essential for life as *we* know it. This provides for the
economy within which memes are selected and thrive. Concerns like truth,
while obviously important, realistically still occupy an uneasy secondary
position to our concerns for meaning.
Indeed, I would suggest that meaning represents more of the pheMotypical
(corresponds to genetic phenotype) manifestation of memes. This network of
association and recognition that form the more universally biological side of
a bifold model of the human mind. The actual semantics of language is where
the more memotypical (corresponds to genotype) aspects of memes reside,
interlocking with our basic language instinct - the most basic engine to
cultural evolution - and operating within the inner voice-loop of a bifold
model of the human mind.
In this sense, perhaps the spiritual represents those memetic manifestations
that provide humans with the greatest sense of association and recognition
(even if it is false sense of recognition), impelling humans to the greatest
sense of life commitment to things meaningful. I don't know if this is the
conversation which you envisioned. Feel free to respond if it is.
Otherwise, you may look into the Church of the Virus.
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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