Re: virus: Altruism, Empathy, the Superorganism, and the Priso

Robin Faichney (
Tue, 29 Apr 1997 11:53:00 +0100

Martz wrote:
>On Mon, 28 Apr 1997, Robin Faichney <> wrote:
>>>So in reply to your question about what self means when we're talking
>>>about people; the person, of course. If you're going to object to using
>>>particular terms you must lead by example.
>>Did I object to using any particular terms? If so, you'll have
>>to remind me.
>Perhaps not in so many words, but by repeatedly calling it a fiction you
>forced me to restate my point using different terminology. Yet you
>continue to use this "fiction" yourSELF.

Of course "I" do!

Years ago I was thinking about starting a business. The concept
of the "limited company" was explained to me by saying that it
was a fictitious individual. (Or words to that effect -- this was a
long time ago.) That does not make it wrong to use the word or
the concept -- in general terms. But you have to realise that
exactly what it means will depend on the context (oh no not
that again!). And in some contexts it will mean nothing. This
is more than just the general context-dependence of meaning.
The point is that, unlike rocks and such, there is nothing "out
there" that corresponds to "self" or to "company". These
memes play very important parts in our culture, but for that
very reason it is important to bear in mind their limitations.
And more generally, it is important to realise the difference
between memes that have concrete referents, and those
that do not.