This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.


← Meme Theory, Zahavi's Handicap, and the Baldwin Effect

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 12 by Zeuglodon

That doesn't work either, because it confuses endurance and inheritance with replication.

Then we have two seperate memetic type phenomena at work...

1) The point at which an idea is literally replicated.

2) The point at which people think that an idea has been replicated...or label it such. The meta-idea.

I would argue that all the issue that you raise arise from a 'literalist' memetics such as (1), as you are looking for some sort of meme equivalent of genes and its hard to see how such an abstract thing actually exists.

So I agree with your critique of memetics, but that is precisely why I introduced concept (2). The point about (2) is that it is clearly something that does actually happen, and there are examples all over the place including on this forum.

Type (2) is precisely how we get to call someone a 'Muslim' despite the fact that they may hold considerably different ideas and lifestyle and devotion to their religion than someone else that we might also label a 'Muslim'.

Indeed, without the meta-idea concept, it is hard to see how anyone is a Muslim, or a Christian, or a Buddhist or whatever.

After all, no idea is passed on verbatim. The writers of the Gospels had to struggle with words to convey their thoughts...and who can say whether those words exactly convey the idea ? And likewise with a person then reading that Gospel...who can say that what enters their head is actually even an accurate interpretation of the inadequate words ? Thus in a mere two generations we've lost all certainty that the original meme has actually been passed on !

Thus the only sense in which that second generation is actually a 'Christian' is at the meta level.

Sat, 21 Jul 2012 16:58:41 UTC | #949761