RE: virus: Does a dog have meme-nature?

Fri, 7 Jun 1996 09:19:39 +0600

>Does anyone else see a little Homo-centric prejudice working in this
>discussion? We, at the top of the divine chain of creation, are
>exclusively capable of reproducing memes. This, I suspect, implies a
>hidden assumption that we are set apart by some human "gift" (a Cartesian

I don't have much interest in continuing this thread. That's not because I
think it uninteresting, but rather becuase I'm about to start repeating

There may be behavioral replicators in other species, but so far as we can
tell at this point, they are largely devoid of symbolic content. The focus
on human culture is a result of the human capacity to serve as vectors for
conentful symbolic replicators, i.e. the human meme pool is the richest,
most intricate and complex one available for investigation right now.
That's not because humans have a divine spark, it's because humans employ
languages which are syntactically versitile and symbol-rich.

>The human mind is a unique cluster of mental processes. It is possible
>that each individual component process is "matched" somewhere in another
>species (perhaps even languaging, if you include dolphins).

This may be true, but the memes which dolphin brains may sustain and
propagate do not interact or have significant cross-over with the human
sphere of memetic activity. We may discover the dolphin Rosetta stone, and
then all bets are off, but for now we have no access to dolphin memetic
activity which is anywhere near as rich or interesting as human memetic

>To single out the human cluster and anoint it as uniquely qualified can
>only be wishful thinking akin to other aesthetically satisfying arguments
>like selfhood and the divine chain of creation.

Again, the fact that memetics is, at present, concerned with the realm of
human memetic activity in no way "anoints" humanity "as uniquely qualified"
to sustain or propagate epigenetic replicators. I suspect that most of the
people who read this list are open to the possibility of extra-terrestrial
intelligence. ETs, provided they use a reasonably abstract means of
encoding events and states in their world, and provided they are limmitted
in their ability to sustain and propagate those symbols (without limits,
there will be no selection pressure and no differential selection) will
definitely sustain an interseting collection of memetic lineages.

Likewise, I suspect that many of the people on this list do not beleive
that human brains are capable of any activity that will be forever beyond
the capacity of silicone based entites (I know there are some of you who
do, but that's a whole 'nother thread), and when computers grasp the
semantics as well as the syntax of language, they too will sustain memes of

What you see as a "homo-centric predjudice" I see as a justifiedly
selective focus. This focus is not carved in stone nor dictated by god. I'm
sure it will change, but at the moment, it is justified. Take care. -KMO

The Great Cornholio! I need thesis for me Bunghole!