RE: virus: Does a dog have meme-nature?

Richard Brodie (
Tue, 11 Jun 1996 07:38:10 -0700

Reed Konsler wrote:

>A phenotype is the physical result of a genetic sequence. The
>phenotype itself
>is not involved in the reproduction of it's genetic plan, except in the
>that a good phenotype makes it's expressor more fit.

I think I get your meaning, Reed, but this statement is easily
misunderstood. A phenotype (especially an "extended" phenotype a la
Dawkins) is THE means of reproduction of the genetic plan.

>Where, exactly has the mutation of this idea (knife--->fork) occured?
>I think
>much of it has occured in the brain, but some (a requisite and
>part) has occured in the object, the "phenotype". Afterwards I can
>design a
>better fork, a purpose built one. But I won't know it's better until I
>make it
>and try it out. Evaluation is in the environment, initially (with
>it can be moved into the brain, but you've always got to be wary..."So
>good in theory, but...")

Evolution in its broadest sense, change over time, occurs everywhere.
But evolution of MEMES only occurs in minds by definition. I, along with
Dawkins and Dennett, restrict the definition of memes to information
stored in MINDS. Information is stored elsewhere, but humans only have
access to it through our distinction-memes. That is why the meme is such
a powerful distinction: it is simultaneously a replicator and human
mental programming.

Now you COULD define a word--let's call it an infotron--that means ANY
information stored anywhere. It would include memes, forks, stuff in
dogs "minds" and so on. But let's not contaminate "meme" with that
extraneous stuff.

If this care, something has happened in the environment that tends to
inspire minds to create a new meme. But that's because of the
interaction of those minds with the environment. If the environment
changed with no minds around, no memes would be created.

>A fork is an object. But that object is a place where the idea "for"
>object is recorded. To say "yes, but originally there was a thought"
>is to
>ignore our perception of how we create things.

"Fork" and even "object" are distinction-memes. A Fork is not a fork
unless you have a human being recognizing it as such. Remember the Coke
bottle in "The Gods Must Be Crazy"? It wasn't a Coke bottle to the

>Ask an artist how they paint. What do they say? Mostly it's "I start
>what I see inside, but as it progresses I see new things, it takes more
>definite shape, I finish it" Yes, there was an idea. But the final
>expression, the most definitive and final draft of that idea is
>recorded in the
>painting, not in the artist's mind. An artist could start the next day
>paint the same painting. The second might also be very good, but it
>will not
>be the same painting.

It's even dangerous to say that the artist's idea is recorded in the
painting. What an effective artist will do is create something that will
inspire people--that will aid them in creation of new memes in their
minds. But those memes may not be the artist's memes at all--how about
"piss Christ", the crucifix in a bottle with urine? Different onlookers
created different memes upon viewing it, certainly.

>A meme is an expression, not something held internal. It might be
>recorded in
>a brain but it is the expression, not that recording that is
>transmitted. What
>is reproduced is the expression, not the physical wiring from one brain

Well, you've come up with an unusual definition for meme, which I think
muddies the issue. No one thinks a meme is "physical wiring". Memes are
software. But it's generally agreed that the meme is the internal
information, not the expression.

Richard Brodie +1.206.688.8600
CEO, Brodie Technology Group, Inc., Bellevue, WA USA
Do you know what a "meme" is?