Re: memes and dancing

Robin Faichney (
Thu, 23 Dec 1999 15:22:06 +0000

From: Robin Faichney <>
Subject: Re: memes and dancing
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 1999 15:22:06 +0000
Message-Id: <99122315342600.01248@faichney>

On Wed, 22 Dec 1999, Wade T.Smith wrote:
>On 12/22/99 10:44, Robin Faichney said this-
>>Surely the place to separate things is not within any one of them, but =
>>the points between them?
>OK, granted. Where are these points?

See below.

>>In other words, you are saying "the explanation's not memetic, it's=20
>>genetic" --
>>so you see memetic explanations as alternatives to genetic ones, as I s=
>OK, yes- I see, so far, no reason to add the multiplicative identity=20
>known, so far, as a meme. From what I am seeing of cognitive and=20
>behavioral studies of the brain, and indeed, from conclusions about=20
>imitation and birdsong, I see no reason to introduce a separate, cultura=
>quantum at all.=20
>Cultural evolution seems, to me, to be a myth. A happy, anthropomorphic=20
>one, yes, but specious and unneeded.

But you don't give your reasoning! So I feel at liberty to speculate tha=
t what
you really mean to reject here is the idea that culture is necessarily
progressive. If so, you're wrong, because biological evolution isn't
necessarily progressive either, but it's evolution even so. And if progr=
isn't what you hold against cultural evolution, please say, what is?

>But, if you want to call birdsong memetic and cultural, rather than
>genetic and developmental, then I want some separation for where those=20
>points are. So far, dance could be just a human form of birdsong,

Saying that doesn't help, because I see some birdsong as memetic (which y=
should know, because we've discussed it more than once). But the point o=
separation is: "horizontal" transmission. Genes can only be transmitted =
offspring (leaving some exceptional cases out of this necessarily general
picture). Memes however are transmitted freely between any individuals t=
can communicate. That's why most of us, even those who are not keen
memeticists, believe that the waltz is _not_ genetic -- it is obviously
transmitted horizontally. If you don't like memes, you have to propose s=
other explanatory framework for horizontal transmission -- or at least ex=
why none is required. So...??? :-)

Robin Faichney

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