Re: virus: Re: sociological change

Alex Williams (
Sat, 21 Dec 1996 10:28:02 -0500 (EST)

> You probably weren't around for the "memetic nature of dogs" thread.

Nope, think I missed that one. (For the record, I'd say that canines
pass memes just as readily as humans, but with a far narrower
spectrum. We /do/ observe them communicating, they do have a
(nominal) society (`packs'), so there's a decent basis for using the
meme as an abstraction to study their behaviour, too.)

> So far, there are no non human entities that can transmit memes with the
> level of sophistication necessary to build a culture.

I have a basic problem with that analysis; memes are the
building-blocks of culture, not cultures themselves. Just as one can
have a moecule that's not part of a structure and an atom not part of
a molecule and even quantum particles that are no part of an atom, I
perceive that one can have memes sans a `culture' of complexity equal
to ours. Of course, I'd also suggest that /many/ animals have a
`culture:' ants (hives), dogs (packs), in essence, any animal that has
to issue cooperative behaviour at some point (and since they /all/
have to mate, eventually) will have some level of `culture' that can
be perceived, and memes underlying that.

> I know about the signing apes and the dolphins pushing buttons, but
> these (IMHO) don't count.

I would perceive those as animals attempting to enter /our/ culture
through the creation of a `conduit' from their meme-biospheres (minds)
to ours (see the earlier posts on `conduit theory' and that whole
debate). Those examples, in themselves, say nothing about native
cultures, if you will.