RE: virus: Memetical Axioms

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Tue, 23 Sep 1997 09:19:21 -0700 (PDT)

On Tue, 23 Sep 1997, Robin Faichney wrote:

> > 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. :-)
> Robin

Robin has represented my own position well in this post.