RE: socially selected memes

Gatherer, D. (
Thu, 29 Jul 1999 09:53:19 +0200

Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 09:53:19 +0200
From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <>
Subject: RE: socially selected memes
To: "''" <>

Except that Kuhn was a progressionist (see the afterword to the 1970
edition of SSR):

Yes, Gould does rather hate the word 'progress' being used in an
evolutionary context.

the late Dr Kuhn:
Imagine an evolutionary tree representing the development of the modern
scientific specialities from their common origins in, say, primitive
natural philosophy and the crafts. A line drawn up that tree, never
doubling back, from the trunk to the tip of some branch would trace a
succession of theories related by descent. Considering any two such
theories, chosen from points not too near their origin, it should be
easy to design a list of criteria that would enable an uncommitted
observer to distinguish the earlier from the more recent theory time
after time. Among the most useful would be: accuracy of prediction,
particularly of quantitative prediction; the balance between esoteric
and everyday subject matter; and the number of different problems

In other words, the theory would be more adapted....?? , in the
evolutionist's sense of the word. But.... since adaptation is always in the
context of the environment.... do you see what I mean? What I'm driving at
is, for instance 'the number of different problems solved' is not a neutral
term but depends on what are agreed to be problems. Traditional Chinese
medicine has no disease term corresponding to what Western doctors call
hypertension, so the inability of any Chinese rememdy to cure high blood
pressure is not seen as a problem (by TCM practitioners, it is seen as a
serious problem by your average Western MD.)

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