Re: Terminology and Quantification (was Re: Meme Machine

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Mon, 19 Jul 1999 14:11:47 EDT

From: <>
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 1999 14:11:47 EDT
Subject: Re: Terminology and Quantification (was Re: Meme Machine

In a message dated 7/19/99 12:13:58 PM Central Daylight Time, writes:

>>> In a message dated 7/19/1999 3:25:55 AM !!!First Boot!!!,
> writes:
> >> Though I
> > think he would as excited as any of us would be to see that
> > actually happen,
> > I wouldn't expect him or any professional philosopher to lead the
> > charge.
> > That's for people like you, Aaron.
> Ad hominem! <<
> Excuse me????? I simply don't see anything here that resembles an ad
> hominem. I must be missing something.
Dennett's motives where impugned. His not supporting the prospects for
Memetics as a fully realized Science, are attributed to professional
opportunism and cowardice as a philosopher, and not any remotely Epistemic
criteria. Then, by implication, I get dragged in by association.<<

First of all, I think you have misunderstood. This message was in response
to Aaron Lynch, not you. Sorry if that wasn't clear - I thought it was since
the quoted parts were from Aaron Lynch's EMail.

Second of all, it is not an ad hominem against Daniel Dennett. Aaron Lynch
aspires to be a rigorous scientist of memetics. Daniel Dennett does not. As
a *materialist* philosopher, which Daniel Dennett is, I think he would agree
that it is not his place to substitute a priori philosophy for the
scientist's work. As I have read Dennett himself, his role as a philosopher
to ask good questions, and then it is up to scientists to answer them. Far
from cowardice, I would call it rational prudence and respect for scientific
methodology. Heralding in a science of memetics just isn't his job, and for
him to toot that horn before the parade begins would be arrogance.

And aside from this, yes it is professional opportunism. It is the
opportunity for Dennett to do his job and let others do theirs. Dennett can
express his doubts about the possibilities for a memetic science, and people
like Aaron Lynch get to try their hands at dispelling those doubts, and
everybody goes home happy. I have seen few philosopher's suffer for playing
the role of cautious skeptic even if they later relent. I think professional
opportunism is great - its makes the world go 'round. Why is it that people
think that tending to their own interests and roles in a system or society --
instead of trying to arrogantly tend to everyones else's -- is such "dirty


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