Re: i-memes and m-memes

Robin Faichney (
Tue, 31 Aug 1999 12:40:06 +0100

Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 12:40:06 +0100
From: Robin Faichney <>
Subject: Re: i-memes and m-memes
In-Reply-To: <>

In message <2CDFE2C8F598D21197C800C04F911B2034934E@DELTA.newhouse.akzono>, Gatherer, D. (Derek) <>
>Let's look at the alternative to starting the "behaviourist vs.
>mentalist" thing again.
>Consider: every meme has a life cycle consisting of two main stages --
>storage in the brain, and transmission via behaviour. Artefactual
>transmission is a special case of behavioural transmission, requiring
>for example writing and reading behaviours.
>In this scenario, observed imitative behaviour is sufficient evidence of
>brain involvement. Because the "i-meme" (I prefer "i-form") is not
>isolated, as it is in the Dawkins B scenario, it does not require
>independent verification. All of the empirical work can be done on
>behaviours, with the brain brought in as and when appropriate to
>complete the explanations.
>But what explanations? Can you give me an example, in the format above, of
>a situation where behaviours are the main object of study, but bringing
>brain entities in is in some way necessary for a complete explanation?

It depends what kind of explanation you're looking for. In the general
case, it seems obvious that the channel through which memes travel from
one behavioural instance to another, necessarily involves the brain. I
really can't see any advantage in denying that, and I presume you don't
want to do so. The only reason to talk about the brain in individual
cases that I can think of right now is to explain selection and
mutations that occur between one behavioural instance and another.

"Brain entities" are only *necessarily* involved in the following sense:
for the theory of memetics, I think it important to acknowledge the
involvement of the brain, and the best way I can think of to do so is to
view memes as residing there during one half of their life cycle. So to
that extent, and that extent only, to talk about memes *is* to talk
about "brain entities". But, of course, they're behavioural entities
too. Seems to me about time to ditch the argument about where they
live, and accept they're peripatetic. Let us move on too, folks!

Robin Faichney
Get Your FREE Information at

=============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see: