Re: facets of meme-talk

Robin Faichney (
Sun, 29 Aug 1999 18:54:26 +0100

Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 18:54:26 +0100
From: Robin Faichney <>
Subject: Re: facets of meme-talk
In-Reply-To: <>

In message <>, Bill Spight
<> writes
>Dear Robin,
>>To say that something IS
>>RP information seems about as enlightening as saying that something IS matter
>or IS
>>RP energy.
>A better formulation is to say that both genes and memes are formal
>entities, like those used in logic, mathematics and other formal
>systems, rather than physical ones.
>Simple abstraction, such as a relatively short bit string or list of
>propositions, is inadequate because of the aspect of meaning. The question has
>to do with interpretation.

It does indeed, but I said nothing about short bit strings or lists of

>Second, the manifestation of memes in context is typically part of
>replication (if they get replicated). That is not true of the
>phenotypic effects of genes, which are irrelevant to their replication.
>the formalizations of most mathematics and logic, an adequate
formalization of
>memes must be contextual.

I'm not saying we need a formalization of memes, I'm saying the concept
is already, necessarily, a formal one, meaning (among other things) that
memes are not physical things.

>My notion of the web of meaning is not just a metaphor, an alternative to the
>hermeneutic circle. I think that formalization of cultural entities (memes)
>needs to be in terms of a network (web). To be sure, a network can be
>represented as a list of propositions or a bit string, but not in a short,
>simple way.

So far as I understand what you're saying, I agree with it, but it seems
to me all that is covered by the notion of encoding. The
context/network is (at least part of) the code.

Robin Faichney
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