Re: definition of meme (was Re: virus: Re : Complexity was TT)

Alexander Williams (
Wed, 27 Nov 1996 21:20:10 -0500

Wade T.Smith wrote:
> I have long had a problem with the idea that a meme is some discrete and
> transmissable entity.

Being a traditionally exotic thinker (ie. I'm weird) its not the first
time I've advocated a heretical idea that isn't a pancea, but which
addresses certain defencies in the currently accepted paradigm.

> I have not had a problem with a meme as an article of consciousness, and
> a meme set as a cultural determinant. It may well be that memes are
> quanta of consciousness, but that they are totally resident in one
> individual brain, where they are effected by language and symbols and
> hormones, inter alia.

I've got no problem with any of the above views of the meme either, but
viewing memes as transmissible/dormant entities would seem to confuse a
species with an animal: I can transplant an animal to a new continent,
but without others of like kind there to breed with and flourish, I
can't rightfully say I've transplanted a species.

This isn't a completely watertight analogy, but it gets the jist across.

> Memetics is like an 'ecology' of cognitive/artistic phenomena. There are
> few disciplines uninvolved.

Ecology is a very good parallel, actually. Hard to define, hard to
`grasp' in the specific even though the outlines are `obvious.'

Alexander Williams {   ||Member: Evil Geniuses
          }    ||For a Better Tomorrow
============================================// => Charter Member <=

"Perhaps we should lower our mental trousers and compare the size of our consciousnesses?" -- Jan Sands to Marvin Minsky ==================================================================== <>