Re: virus: On Deconstruction

Dan Plante (
Wed, 02 Apr 1997 01:42:39 -0800

At 09:48 AM 4/1/97 -0500, Alex Williams wrote:

>>Dan Plante wrote

>> A: the limbic system hosts memes, or
>> B: memes (ideas, thoughts, impressions, etc) embody their own motivation
>> (that is, they are solely and directly responsible for an individual's
>> actions and future direction of thought).
>> I fail to see how either of these could possibly be true.
>That is because your understanding is faulty.
>The brain does not host memes. The CNS does not host memes.

Agreed. Only those parts of the human CNS (ie: cortical structures) shown
to contain activity which correlates with information processing host memes.

>The organism hosts memes.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'organism' in this context. Do you mean the
entire human body? Surely you don't think that a foot contains, or in any
way contributes to, information /processing/, do you? This would certainly
be inconsistent with the definition of 'meme' that I've gleaned from the
available sources. While there is some validity to refraining from
making distinctions between structures or functional units at greater
levels of detail, I explicity stated the level of analysis that provided
the context in the original post.

>Memes take input/run over the substrate of the organism.

I don't know what you mean by 'input/run' or 'substrate' in the above

>Changes in
>the limbic or muscular system can change the environment of the
>memesphere, giving rise to different memecologies as a reaction to the
>change in environment.

Possibly, but that's not what I said. I agree with the conclusion that
sensory input of any kind (including sensory feedback from the host's own
musculature) can change the instantaneous memetic makeup, but presenting
memes (and their associated activity in the cortex) as the single source
of 'self', of the phenomenon of percieved consciousness, of the sole
mechanism responsible for an individual's behaviour, is mistaken. Memes
(again, as I understand them), are essentially inert. There is no 'drive'
or /intrinsic intentionality/ contained within them. Without a tight
coupling with the rest of the CNS, these ideas, thoughts, impressions and
associations don't produce any action, any behaviour. There's no reason,
no motivation, no /drive/ to do so. It is the process of

A: understanding of sexual interaction and recognition of a sexual partner

B: feelings of excitement associated with anticipation, feelings of sexual
arousal upon contact, feelings of orgasm upon climax, and feelings of
relaxed satiation afterwards

that /together/ give rise to desire and hence individual rutting. It is
the interactions of the limbic system and 'memetic' system that evokes
behaviour. In the beginnings of a memetically capable entity, there are
only drives and instinct. As the entity grows, the drives and instincts
produce substantially random behaviour that, as the feedback information
is processed by the cortex, begins to associate certain things in its
environment with 'feeling good', wich reinforces those cognitive associations
and objects in its environment that lead to those types of thinking and
behaviour that will once again produce a 'good feeling'. This beginning
is a 'bootstrapping' process which, over time, is able to build fairly
complex and abstract associations that correlate well with feeling good.
These good feelings may be as powerful as orgasm, or as subtle as
contentment upon attaining a PhD, but they all have physical representation
in the limbic system. The hypothalamus does not host memetics, and the
stimulation of receptors with dopamine is not a meme. Individual behaviour
is the emergent property of limbic (motivator) and memetic (facilitator)
/interaction/. I imagine it's the 'memesphere's' ability to make associations
that made it valuable enough to the limbic system in getting what its
host needed out of the environment, which led to selective pressures
favoring more and more capable memespheres throughout human evolution.

>Memes are more abstract entities than can be
>pinned down to some location in the brain,

If you mean specific areas within the cortex, then no, you're right. The
electrochemical activity in the cortex associated with cognition is highly
distributed within it. The 'brain' has many parts, some involved in
cognition, or concious thought, and some not. Endocrine action is not
thinking, for instance (but it does influence the direction of thought).

>they exist as
>informational, not physical, abstractions.

I don't understand. 'Informational abstractions' and 'physical abstractions'?

>When I state, `there is no
>YOU, there is just the emergent face of your memesphere,'

You seem to see this as a refutation. I see it as redundant. The emergent
property of limbic and memetic interaction /is/ you.

>I literally
>mean that your informational ecology, existing in both the environment
>of your body and its environment,

If I understand you correctly, then I believe your conceptualization of
the 'body's environment' vis a vis memetics is incorrect. The body's
'environment' can no more process ideas than the body's foot can. I think
you may be misidentifying the mind's /model/ of its environment with the
environment itself.

>produce the fiction of you.

There is no 'fiction', or 'illusion' with regards to self-awareness,
conciousness, or thought, however many fancies these assertions seem
to tickle on this list of late. These words invariably evoke thoughts
of non-existence, or that what is being discussed is not /really/ there.
An individual's perception of his or her own conciousness is a very /real/
phenomenon. A highly complex emergent, but a real phenomenon nonetheless.
Ask anybody :-)

>Hope that clears things up a bit.

initial conditions = data (conception)
control of data = information (conception to puberty)
control of information = knowledge (puberty to marriage)
control of knowledge = wisdom (marriage to divorce)