Re: virus: Chimps and meme-nature
Tue, 04 Jun 1996 18:42:49 -0400

Dogs with memes?, I asked.

>>Richard Brodie

Also seconded by KMO, with the addition regarding my question on chimps and

>...Chimps might [host memes], but without human guidance,
>I doubt that any replicators that made their way through chimp meme-space
>would be sufficiently complex or representational to qualify as memes in
>any interesting sense.

Level of interest to humans aside, what about the tool using families of
chimps that have been observed in their natural habitat? By example, older
generations pass on (replicate) the skills for creating leaf sponges for
retrieving water out of tree trunks, or how to crack nuts by slamming it
between a stick and a rock, and a host [sic] of other tools as well (like
the sticky ant-hill twigs)... these may not be interesting behavioral
adaptations from the human standpoint, but they provide a distinct,
memory-based, replicatable skill for the chimps in question. Would you say
that such tool use in lower primates constitutes the presence of a meme?

I'm only mentioning all of these animal 'thought experiments' to poke at the
fuzzy boundaries.... perhaps the notion that memetics, like cognition, may
not be the sole purview of humans... and whatever that then means about the
kinds of organisms that memes can survive in.