virus: Re: Virus: Replication of Memes
Wed, 14 Aug 96 09:11:30 BST

David McFadzean wrote:
>Can only humans have beliefs or can chimps? Where do you draw the line?

I think that this comes down to a question of consciousness. I know that I
am a conscious being, but I don't KNOW that you are. I assume that you are
because we are both human, brought into the world by the same process and at the
same level of evolutionary development. The question is, though, at what point
does consciousness come into being in a creature.

It is strongly suggested that creatures such as chimps ARE conscious beings, so
THEORETICALLY it is possible that they do hold beliefs. Unfortunately, unless
you were a chimp, you would never know, you can only assume. On the other hand,
many people would regard insect life as being Unconscious. The reason for this
is based mainly on the existance of a central nervous system in some creatures,
and not others. Chimps are very Human in the way that their nervous system is
set up, while ants act on reflex only.

I know that this detracts a little from the thread, but I believe it's a very
important point to be discussed, if a system of memetics is going to be applied
to creatures other than Humans. The problem is, though, that unless you were
one of the creatures to which you wished to apply the principle, you would
never know whether "bees and termites" can hold a system of beliefs, or whether
they are merely reflex action organisms.



Richard Jones