Re: virus: Definition of meme (from alt.memetics)

Alexander Williams (
Tue, 31 Dec 1996 17:42:48 -0500

David McFadzean wrote:
> Actually I think we would make more progress if we could at least
> agree on a definition of "meme".

Progress, now he wants /progress/. Oi vey.

> Nevertheless, memes cause new memes by their influence. Animals
> do not cause new animals with their spoor.

At some point you stop the metaphor before it becomes silly. The
metaphor in this case stops well before the point of `spawning.' In
short, the animal spawns an idea of its properties in the mind of the
hunter just as meme spoor spawns a meme which has the traits of the
originator as interpreted from the spoor in the mind of the observer.
The similarity isn't a direct mapping.

> I beg to differ. Genes are transmitted by definition. The DNA is
> not (except for that contained in the sex cells). You seem to be
> confusing the two, genes are coded information that just happens
> to be manifested in DNA.

I think the underlying problem is that we have a field built on an
entire series of imprecise usages and sloppy meanings in memetics, in
part because its hard to get the metaphor tuned just right to
communicate `just this and no more.'

> Of course you are welcome to use whatever definitions you like,
> as long as communication is not an issue :)

No one /ever/ said we communicate on this ML ...

   Alexander Williams { /}
  Prefect of the 8,000,000th Terran Overlord Government Experimental
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