Re: virus: Replication of Memes

Steve (
Wed, 14 Aug 1996 01:26:23 +0800

There is a great deal of promise in this thread. Some very basic assumptions
are being challenged. But one very powerful assumption is getting away with
murder. But first, I want to begin my 2 cents worth by returning to some
basic principles that I think have been overlooked for hundreds of years:

In order for others to make sense of my own contribution to this thread, I
will need to briefly overview the following preliminary basics:
1) The associative properties of consciousness are central to understanding
why every meme constituting an organism's consciousness is associated with
every other meme in its memory;
2) The mind/body problem is an extension of the first principle - memes
that become a part of an organism's consciousness have to be consistent with
the body of that organism. Human language and human culture exist because
humans have vocal chords that predispose humans to creating words as memes.
And through the associative properties of consciousness, words are coupled
with other experiential memes (related to the use of hands with which to
build things and related to the use of legs by which to go to different
realms), to provide a powerful means of structuring a very detailed reality.
3) Every organism obeys the above two principles - from amoeba and neurons
to elephants and humans. Dogs possess bodies that predispose dogs to
behaving in a dog-like manner. Neurons posess bodies that predispose neurons
to behaving in a neural manner, thereby making neural-level memes and neural
cultures (brains) possible;
4) Every organism is a meme. I am a meme, and so are you. Each of you is a
meme, because each of you has a subjective perception of yourself that can
be distilled to a single essence of meaning. And what is more, each of you,
each and every organism is a chaotic attractor that draws in memes
consistent with the mind/body problem and the choices that each and every
organism makes.
6) Every organism makes choices from the reality within which it is
embedded. That is why, when a cat is brought up in a human culture, it makes
choices from the memes provided by that culture that enable it to become

>Steve Upstill wrote:
>Certainly human behavior is primarily determined by memes, but just because
>some memes are good at it, it doesn't follow that the ability of a meme to
>control the behavior of transmission is important. I would even make a simple
>bandwidth argument that people carry around way too many memes to effectively
>transmit them all.

Memes do not control the behaviour of an organism. An organism chooses memes
that become a part of its perception of the world and its personality. Memes
are chaotic attractors. That is why it is possible that "people carry around
too many memes to effectively transmit them all." A person need only exhibit
a few attractor memes to establish a 'seed' or 'initial conditions' around
which a way of life can self-organize. You need not know the entire life
history of a
role model in order to become a 'type' that is automatically associated with
that role model.

>Steve Upstill wrote:
>My larger point was in questioning what seemed to me an over-emphasis
>on memes motivating their carriers to modify their behavior in order
>to pass on the meme. I think that what's more important is that the
>memes "fit in the channel".

Refer above to the mind/body problem. Think about predisposition to
behaviour rather than the programming of behaviour. The organism chooses the
memes that feed back to sustain and nurture the desires, that result in the
drive to choose more of the same.

>Richard Brodi wrote:
>But to a large degree human behavior determines those channels. And
>human behavior is controlled to a large degree by memes.

Human behaviour is not controlled by memes. Rather, humans make choices that
feed back to sustain the desires that motivate the continuation to choose
more of the same.

The desire to be is the single all-pervading mechanism that motivates every
organism to continue doing what its physiology predisposes it to do. It is
the single principle around which all desires are constructed.

>Marshall McLuhan wrote
>The medium is the message

The person sharing their memes is a meme.

>David McFadzean wrote
>My own view on this is if memetics has the possibility of being a
>science, it will be based more on computational metaphors (treating
>memes as programs) than information theory (which is concerned more
>with the process of transmission).

>> Of course, if we use Dretske's notion of information and if a honey
>> bee's dance or a termite's pheremones are to convey information, then
>> bees and termites must be capable of KNOWING things.
>> I have a problem with this, as I think knowledge requires justified true
>> belief, and I'm not convinced that bees and termites have beliefs.

>Let me ask you this then: Do bees and termites behave *as if* they
>have beliefs? Anyone else have an opinion on this?

The model of brain-as-computer is going to have to go. It is a violation of
all the basic principles that I have enumerated above. David asks "Do bees
and termits behave *as if* they have beliefs? I say this - they have desires
are consistent with their physiologies. Now I'm not too sure that the
implied superiority of people's beliefs has transcended human desires
confined by human physiological form.

Steve Tramont