Re: virus: Sign memes & Chomsky

Tony Hindle (
Mon, 14 Apr 1997 13:17:24 +0100

In message <970409.122526.CT.COOKCORE@ESUVM>, "Corey A. Cook"
<> writes
>Tony wrote:
> 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?
>Disagreement. I reflect that communication between individuals arose
>prior to consious thought. There really is no way to prove this one
>way or another, it's just my own personal quirk. This would mean that
>memes arose before minds, and minds might be the emergent property of
I agree. Comunication between individuals must have come first.
BTW I have been thinking more about the
stuff and this thought has crystalised:
I have always had a problem accepting that consciousness might
have had a very recent evolution because of the rate of biological
evolution being so slow. Now I realise that it is memetic evolution that
has exapted the pre-existing mental modules (Oh fuck I think I've
written you this before, my memory is poor) so I can accept a much more
recent genesis for consciousnes as we know it. In fact I can accept that
only a few hundred years ago consciousness would have been very
different since today we have all of modern sciences theories (mind
tools) to equip our consciousnes'.
Another related thought, nerve stimulants could have effectively
increased the memetic mutation rate, thus speeding up the rate of
evolution of consciousness. I can see some of my barriers to accepting
this stuff falling before my eyes.
Back to the point, yes I agree that inter-individual
communication must have been a pre-requisite.

In message <970409.113405.CT.COOKCORE@ESUVM>, "Corey A. Cook"
<> writes
>I'm not a linguist, but I am interested in the field. In fact, I am
>considering switching my major to linguistics (the engineering bit just
>isn't working out).
Do it Corey, Swap engineering for linguistics. As a trained
engineer I can assert that engineering is a dull profession full of
brilliant but underapreciated genius'.
> This may explain why I am so interested in this
>thread. But this thread may take a while until it is finished: we
>don't have any linguists, and so we are just going to have to "blunder
>our way to a better understanding." :-)
Blundering sounds fun, If we drift too far from reality there
are plenty of fellow CoVists who will steer us back I am sure. I can see
this leading to me having to read
Stephen Pinker's book _The Language Instinct_.
I have just added it to my "order it from the library list"

>>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.
>It can if you question the statement "linguisticaly isolated enviroment".
I think the examples from the program qualified. Completely deaf
children who had only ever had contact with hearing people. I accept
that they may have had some common gestures. But they all developed a
higher level of grammar once they were brought together. This grammar
enabled comunications that were many orders richer than the most fluent
of all the children in gestures alone. In separated incidences of this
(deaf children being brought together) the grammar always followed the
universal grammar rules proposed by chomsky. What is more, the level of
sophistication of the grammar grew as the age at which the children were
brought together fell, evidence for some kind of age dependant LAD
activity as you (I think) said.

>I never said we have to design a new one from scratch. All we have to
>do is examine the one we have now, decide which parts are more of a
>hinderance than a help, and stop using them.
And of course invent new labels for abstract conceptualisations
that appear in our consensus reality (Prof Tim's label.)
> I am all for language
>evolution. The problem is I want it NOW, not fifty years from now.
I want everything now, and I never want to die, I guess I am
going to be very dissapointed in the long run.

>When I read your original post advocating the use of childrens' minds
>to furthur science, the following scene was conjured up in my head:
>a nation (or world) wide program for children, where concepts, theories,
>and models are fed to them, in the hope that a new understanding will
>be reached, and make the world a better place.
I really was only trying to understand the process of evolution
of science/civilisation as it already happens. I do think a world wide
program of education for all children is a desirable goal though (after
feeding and clothing).
>What frightened me was the idea that this entire scheme might have some
>fundamental flaw and backfire, possibly harming an entire generation of
>impressionable minds.
Yes, all education must come with the warning "this is our best
guess based on the data we have at the moment, perhaps one day you will
do better".
>On the other hand, if it is only used on a small number of subjects,
>the rewards would be that much smaller. We have the classic
>delema (sp): it must be widespread enough to do some good, but small
>enough that it can't do much harm.
Its free access to all information that I believe will allow
this process of evolution to continue, I am not advocating a special
experiment with a special group of children.
I think that the process of world wide awakening of individual
consciousness' is a natural process. All the misguided atempts at
controlling information are doomed to failure in the long term (although
in a single lifetime it does allow the wicked to rule the good in some
isolated pockets IMHO.)

On Thu, 10 Apr 1997, Tony Hindle <> wrote:
>(since we can stop when our theories actually do describe reality

Martz wrote:
Gotta nitpick here. Sorry. We can never stop because our theories can
never be proved to describe reality accurately. They can only be shown
to accurately describe her *behaviour*. A subtle but very important
I agree. I envisage the process will be never ending. I feel
sure there is some inherant recursive feedback process as well. The
answer to one question always equips us to ask another new question.

>On Wed, 9 Apr 1997, "Corey A. Cook" <> wrote:
>>A number of netizens have put forward the idea that self-awareness was
>>the result of ancient man's use of psychoactives. The following site:
Martz wrote:
>I'd be interested in hearing that discussion guys. I might even
>participate if that's not being too presumptious of me. If it does
>happen could you CC me please?
Tony Hindle.
I looked up "infinite" in the dictionary, It said "see infinity".
(thats always the way, I can never get a straight answer from a dictionary)
So then I looked up "infinity", it said "see infinite".
....The Rev. C. Darwin.