Memetics Defined! (was Re: virus: Why not ramble)

Brett Lane Robertson (
Thu, 23 Oct 1997 16:44:34 -0500

At 03:41 PM 10/23/97 -0400, you wrote:
>>memetics discovers what is memetic
>>science discovers what is scientific.
>Interesting, both from a semantic angle, and from a common usage of
>English angle....
>By which I mean, there is no there there....
>I pretty well know what 'science' is....

Wade T. Smith


Here is an attempt to define memetics (though there still seems to be no
"there there", I could say the same about "science" even if Wade knows
"pretty well" what that entity is)

Memetics: The discipline of representing a behavior pattern in it's most
simple form such that it's propensity to replicate is indicated; that is, by
representing a behavior as a pattern, one indicates that a more complex form
is forthcoming.* The end product of this process is the "meme", which is
defined: The most simple representation of patterned behavior (though the
level at which this meme is located might be related to the level being
studied and our ability to discern what is, in fact, "the most simple
representation"). This does assume that being "infected" by the pattern
alone will produce the behavior--a point which requires further research.

* This could mean representing group behavior using the individual as a
pattern, representing individual behavior using graphic notation,
representing the expression of an idea as a symbolic pattern--or using a
virus to represent the encoding of evolutionary advances--as long as the
pattern used illustrates how the more complex form develops from the pattern.


Rabble Sonnet Retort
This line from Shakespeare has delusions of grandeur.

Douglas R Hofstadter