The Meme Machine unleashed, according to Susan Blackmore.

Richard Lancashire rlancashire at hotmail.com
Thu Oct 3 07:29:07 EST 2002


"Simon Laub" <silanian at mail.tele.dk> wrote 

>   It all rings true to me.
> Except Susan Blackmores claim that the self
> is a complex meme. Certainly, it is puzzling
> that blind people are reported thinking that their
> "I" is located at their fingertips, when they
> read Braille.

I enjoyed the book too, as an introduction to memetics. However, it
was not without its weak points; I was unconvinced by the notion of
'self' as a meme or consistent part of meme-complexes, and in reading
the bibliography I notice Dr Blackmore was writing on Buddhism before
she became really interested in memetics;. It seems like the
Buddhism-meme has persuaded her to draw a conclusion that sits neatly
with itself. But that's what successful memes do...

Another point that I found less than satisfactory was her suggestion
that the development of language preceded (and presumably drove)
symbolic representation. This seems too counterintuitive to me to
state as theory and then move on without elaboration.

>   So what about the future? Does the future belong
> to the memes entirely? And are the genes at the end of
> their reign?

There will still be genetic selection, but part of the point of the
book was that this proceeds at a much slower pace than memetic spread.
Should it come to a major disaster or epidemic, for example, what
parts of mankind that survive will need to be favoured by both in
order to do so.

I think as a fundamental philosophy of existence it is lacking; as a
practical philosophy of information and action it contains very
interesting points to be addressed.

To one of the other posters: she does not claim to have invented the
concept of 'meme'; the name and the full theory (including that of
selfish behaviour, spread and evolution) is attributed to Richard
Dawkins.

Cheers
Rich



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