Re: The information theoretic view Was: JOM

Robin Faichney (
Thu, 2 Sep 1999 20:41:06 +0100

Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 20:41:06 +0100
From: Robin Faichney <>
Subject: Re: The information theoretic view Was: JOM
In-Reply-To: <>

In message <>,
Richard Brodie <> writes
>Robin wrote:
><<Richard, you're not addressing the point that these replicators internal
>and external to the brain are the *same*. For every meme in the brain
>there is a meme encoded in behavior, and quite likely one encoded in an
>artifact too, but in fact these are all the same meme, and there is only
>one, in these different forms, en/decoded as it is copied back and
>forward. Why have more than one name when there's only one thing?>>
>You keep arguing with me, but I don't really have any disagreement with you
>other than you don't think mind-based replicators are particularly

We do disagree, in that I say that there are no cultural replicators
that exist entirely in the mind (or entirely outside of it): there are
no "mind-based replicators". I don't agree that "the mind" is useful in
any definition, being undefined itself, and I say that every cultural
replicator (i.e. every meme) exists both inside and outside the brain.
To the extent that our definitions overlap -- that is, for items that we
would agree are memes, or as close to being memes as makes no difference
for most purposes -- I think these are extremely interesting. But
they're not all I'm interested in.

>Enough people do that we have given them the name "meme." If
>you want to talk about encoding and so on that's fine... but I would be
>confused if you called, for instance, Amway a meme---talking about the whole
>organization, not just the word.

It's a memeplex. Like all other organisations, belief systems, etc.
The meme is the fundamental cultural replicator, and all other cultural
replicators are memeplexes. All memes and memeplexes necessarily exist
both intra-brain (for storage and to affect action) and extra-brain (to
infect other brains).

><<Aaargh! There's that "active" word again! When I castigated Jake, way
>back, for using it without being able to define it -- I went so far as
>to accuse him of mysticism or the like -- you *agreed* with me! So what
>are you doing with it here? Define it or drop it!>>
>"Active?" I guess I mean that its presence makes a significant difference,
>like the active ingredient in a medicine. You can change the inactive
>ingredients and there will be no difference in the effect

You mean "no difference in the intended effect". There may or may not
be differences in unintended effects. So what you're talking about is
subjective. The active ingredient depends on what the medicine is
intended to do, and what's "active" in the mind or brain is also
entirely dependent on your point of view. As long as we all bear that
"in mind", that's fine.

Robin Faichney
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