Re: Measuring Memes

Chris Lofting (
Wed, 16 Jun 1999 05:23:18 +1000

From: "Chris Lofting" <>
To: <>
Subject: Re: Measuring Memes
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 05:23:18 +1000


>It think it important to link memetics to evolution. Memetics is a child
>of Darwinism. If anything, it is the 'non-DNA' based branch of Darwinist
>theory. We know a great deal about how DNA plays a role in Darwinian
>evolution of species. It is not so clear what plays a similar role, if
>anything, in Darwinian evolution of culture.

I think that this is because, due to the use of external memory storage
(books etc), cultures can be seen to evolve along apparent Lamarckian lines
where the high degree of feedback forms a niche such that it is hard to
determine 'what/who came first?'

If we take the dimension of evolution to have two 'poles', then one is
Darwinian and favours reactive processes with a degree of self-containment
such that context sensitivity is limited to 'live or die'. Survival leads to
an increase in survivability and a relationship starts to develop with the
context. We start to move from an oppositional perspective to a
cooperational one.

The other pole is what we could call Lamarckian in that we see proactive
behaviour, pre-emption, strong cooperation and so a context sensitivity that
favours 'others-containment', the context determines expression rather than
the gene just 'expressing' without any consideration of context. The gene is
thus 'general' and the context then particularises the expression.

If we change scales but keep the general format of the dimension then we now
have a gene pole (Darwin end) and a meme pole (Lamarck end). Change scale
again but keep the format and we have, within the gene as well as meme, the
same patterns e.g. on the meme dimension we have Darwinian memes and
Lamarckian memes. However, the memes element is more 'software', more
'wavelike' than the gene element that has a more 'object' bias in
categorisation. you could even 'touch' the gene.

What this suggests is that there is a standard METHOD of categorisation that
forces the structuring of dimensions in this way. The 'fact' that this
method seems to create 'useful' maps of reality suggests that there is a
degree of resonance between 'out there' and 'in here'; we have adapted to
the environment by internalising some of its characteristics..



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