RE: virus: Meme, the Underlying Cause

Robin Faichney (
Tue, 30 Sep 1997 11:42:35 +0100

> From: Tadeusz Niwinski[]
> Robin wrote:
> >To see that as meaning such information is "more important"
> >than us is to project intention/purpose onto the process. See
> >below.
> We were discussing if memes were (or were not) the "underlying cause",
> as
> you described it. I was just following your "intention/purpose"
> terminology. What would the "no-intension" equivalent of "more
> important" be?
I'm just guessing that the "intention/purpose" thing lies behind
your claim that genetic information is "more important than
life itself". I may be wrong. Why don't you explain what you
mean by it. More important to/for whom or what?

> >> In
> >> fact genes even kill us in order to evolve (aging and death are
> >> programmed
> >> in our genes). The selfish gene is now approaching a new
> opportunity
> >> --
> >> computers and the Web.
> >>
> >Isn't it our memes, rather than our genes, that propagate
> >via the Internet?
> Yes. Memes had to use genes and us to build Internet first. So it
> all
> boils down to "The Selfish Meme" (a book yet to be written by Richard
> Dawkings, as he claims on the cover of "Thought Contagion" by AAron
> Lynch).
Dawkins himself says that to view genes as literally selfish
is very silly (or words to that effect). As someone once
said of him, a good part of his writing is devoted to
countering the effects of his headlines. Do you think
either memes or genes have intentions? If not, what does
it mean to say that "Memes had to use genes and us to
> build Internet first"?
> >All this seems based on the notion that the replicating
> >information is "more important" than us. If that was
> >true, then it would explain *why* it should make us
> >obsolete -- but even then, it would not make that
> >inevitable. As it is, the "more important" thing is
> >meaningless, so even the "why" is empty.
> Assuming that memes are not the "underlying cause" we can easily prove
> that
> they aren't. :-)
> Can you define what you meant by the "underlying cause"?
Genes are the underlying cause of the phenotype, in the sense
that they embody its design, and it develops due to the interaction
between them and their cellular (and extra-cellular) environment.
Memes are not, in the same sense or anything like it, the
underlying cause of behaviours. They *are* behaviours.

> >Teleological: end-oriented, purposeful. Evolution has no
> >end in mind (because no mind), no purpose, no
> >intention.
> I agree, evolution has no mind. Nonetheless it leads somewhere, it
> works
> according to certain rules. We are talking about the rules.
Just because there are rules does not necessarily imply any
particular conclusion. Chess is rule-governed, but sometimes
white wins, sometimes black, and sometimes there's a draw.

> >To suggest that we are "fated" to
> >to be made obsolete by information propagating via
> >our artifacts is superstitious nonsense.
> Sorry to disappoint you. What if obsolescence is something science
> "brings
> in the stars for us"? :-) But, wait, there is hope: "they" may still
> need
> us the same way we need mitochondria. Relax, don't cling tightly to
> an
> illusion about us and our artifacts that we are the final product of
> evolution. Let go, stop running, and face life as it is, there is
> nothing
> to fear but fear itself. (Shit, this search program is so easy to
> use...).
> Buddhism apparently helps.
To underestimate an opponent is dangerous. I am not so
stupid as you think. Of course we are not the end-point of
evolution. In fact, we are no more important than bacteria,
from evolution's point of view. On the contrary, I say it is
you who is anthropocentric, believing that we are of
special significance, and projecting the human qualities
of purpose and such onto the perfectly impersonal
universe. There is no fate, whether dictated by science
or astrology! Accept the responsibility of directing your
own life, and leave fatalism to losers.