Re: virus: Sign memes & Chomsky

Tony Hindle (
Wed, 9 Apr 1997 12:12:22 +0100

Thanks for the posting Corey. I have disected it for your consideration
below. The reason I find this so fascinating is because I think it is an
angle that can tie in a lot of the themes that have been repeatedly
cropping up here. People talk about consciousness, memcologies, the
illusion of self, the progression of subjective reality to more closely
aproximate objective reality, the language of inner thought and of
course Memes (deliberate capital, I remembered).
Heres how I vaguely see a way of bringing together all these
things into a coherent explanation of consciousness, life, the universe
and everything. (ambition hath no bounds said the flying hippo.)
Starting from brains which could not communicate between one
another, these brains would each create thier individual pidgeon inner
thought languages. Common experiences of elements of objective reality
would have as many different internal representations as there were
people. When a meme spontaniously arises by chance which is able to make
a copy of itself in some other brain it will begin to spread. I imagine
innitially the only replicatable Memes would have concrete external
anchoring points eg Tiger, food-animal. The Meme that spread would
simply be the best comunicatable sound that mutually brought to mind
"Tiger" or whatever. This suggests an intuitively reasonable order of
evolution of Memes from concrete to abstract. A process of evolution
then begins to furnish all brains with "more and more evolved" memes. I
reckon we could in principle measure the amount of consciousness a brain
has by measuring the complexity of the evolved memecologies. Like Dennet
I see no limit to this process of evolution of consciousness.
Anyway this is just an early attempt at comunicating my thoughts
to all, I reckon some of you out there probably would agree with this
general resumee (if we could get past the language barrier). Comments?

In message <970408.090205.CT.COOKCORE@ESUVM>, "Corey A. Cook"
>Tony gave a discription of a television show about deaf children in
>Nicaragua, left orphaned by a revolution. One of the things that
>the show asserted was that children instinctivly know grammar rules.
>Unfortunatly, I can't unconditionally accept that conclusion without
>more data. Another model that the data given fits is that, when
>forced to create a new language, children also create new grammar rules.
The program alone wasnt sufficient to make any definate
conclusions about a universal innate grammar. I do recall though that
Noam Chomsky has championed this position and that it it now the
respectable academic position (overwhelming evidence). I made the
posting in the hope that some better informed linguists might be able to
help me think through the implications, maybe we can blunder our way to
a better understanding Corey. The model you propose can not explain why
in all linguisticaly isolated environments so far discovered, the
grammar (at a high level of abstraction) is the same. IMHO I think that
the reason is because the LAD is really biult by exapting pre-existing
mental modules (NOT PRE-ADAPTATIONS ...Dennett). Since these pre-
existing mental modules will have been spieces-wide we should expect the
LAD,s to look as if they contain the same Grammar rules (if we look at a
sufficiently high level of abstraction.) I am reminded of JK's words
when she encountered the deaf girl that had never been taught any
grammar "I thought someone must have given her a book on correct

>Another thing that the show seemed to assert was that there are universal
>grammar rules and syntactic structures. It doesn't seem that way to
>me. It seems that each language has it's own grammar rules, developed
>to fit the situation that existed when that language was invented. That
>would explain why you can say things in one language that you just can't say
>in another: one culture has that situation, another doesn't.
As I said I think Chomsky's syntactic structures and universal
grammar has widely supporting evidence from a number of scources. I
think the reason some things can only be said in certain languages is
that they may depend upon on a widely known cultural referance point
that only exists in some languages. I am sure Eskimos can say many
things that cannot be translated into english because they have have
different cultural discriminations. The Germans can probably say
untranslatable things about the experience of the war because their
cultural heritage is unique regarding it.
>This just reinforces my desire for a new language since the old ones can't
>express the ideas that we have now, because they didn't have the situations
>we have now.
I agree, but to try and design a new language from scratch is
not sensible (oh fuck what have I come to, advocating being sensible).
The way foreward is to allow the languages to continue to evolve as they
have always done.

Tony Hindle.
Why and when was the first word ever said?
Was it when there was a group of hunters and one of them spoted
a dangerous preditor, and shouted "RUN"?
Was it when there was there was a group of hunters and one of them
spoted a fertile female, and shouted "PUSSY"?
It was when there was a group of hunters and one of them spoted
a fertile female and shouted "RUN".
...The Rev. C. Darwin.