Re: virus: Autocatalytic Idea System Examples

Tim Rhodes (
Fri, 30 May 1997 12:15:25 -0700 (PDT)

On Thu, 29 May 1997, Chitren Nursinghdass wrote:

> I think the real stagnation arises when one doesn't try to justify or think
> about
> a newly transmitted meme. Like say "I hope I'll find my soulmate", without
> even trying to see whether asking such a question is jutified in the first
> place:
> "is there such a thing as a soulmate.".

I disagree. Just the opposite, I think. Stagnation arises more often
/from/ trying to justify or overly analize new memes.

In the case of the example you give, by saying "I hope I'll find a
soulmate" you create and new meme, "soulmate", that is liquid, undefined
and adaptable. Questioning the justification for such a meme's existence
("is there such a thing as a soulmate?"), rather than utilizing that
adaptive quality of the new meme, gets you where? Nowhere. You're still
stuck in your rut, sitting alone in a cafe thinking too much. But if you
provisionally except the new meme and *test* it instead of trying to
justify it using an overabundance of reason, you'll soon find that your
interest in discovering if a new person you meet (or have yet to meet) is
that elusive "soulmate", has motivated you to get off you ass (and out of
your rut) and talk to people you might never have bothered meeting
otherwise. And, as a result, your memeset gets changed and maybe you
attach distinction memes to someone that include the newly defined

Maybe it was just a flaw in your example, but I think the root of
stagnation lies more in rigorously checking new memes against existing
ones than in not thinking about them. It's a question of theory vs.
practice, I think.

-Prof. Tim