RE: virus: Memetical Axioms

Robin Faichney (
Tue, 23 Sep 1997 09:45:48 +0100

> From: David McFadzean[]
> At 11:02 AM 9/22/97 +0100, Robin Faichney wrote:
> >I think you answered yourself there, David. Sure, the genes
> >have no direct affect, but we host the particular memes we do,
> >in large part, due to genetically-controlled factors. What
> >this comes down to, basically, is: do genes affect behaviour?
> >To which the answer is, I think, unequivocally, yes.
> Of course. But why stop at genes? We are not solely memetic and
> genetic creatures, we are also chemical creatures and physical
> creatures, so you can't talk about human behaviour without
> talking about chemistry and physics, right?
Whatever you look at, you leave something out of the picture.
You can't focus on everything at once. So what you choose
to look at is a matter of pragmatics. For some purposes,
memes alone will do, while for others they won't. I translate
what Eva said (and I hope she'll correct me if I've gotten it
wrong) as: for many important purposes, consideration of
memes alone will not suffice, but consideration of memes
plus genes will. What's genetically inherited forms a highly
significant part of the landscape in which memes survive,
or fail to do so.

> >Typical computer hardware is a Universal Turing Machine:
> >it can do any info processing task for which a program
> >can be written. Brains are not like that.
> I meant only that computers depend on the hardware to run
> programs, but you don't normally consider that when talking
> on the level of operating systems.
And what I meant was: you can get away with that to a
greater extent with computers than with brains (and it
*is* a matter of degree) because computers are
general info processing machines, while brains are
highly specialised. You could perhaps put it this
way: neural substrate != neutral substrate. :-) On a
level playing field, you'd only ever have to look at
memes, but this field's not level.

It can also be argued that there is no clear software/
hardware division in brains, as there is in computers,
but I'll leave that for another day. :-)