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Thread: Memes and Memetics

  1. #1 Memes and Memetics 
    Ascended Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Memes and Memetics:

    So what is a Meme?

    A meme is a theoretical unit from the realms of ideas, symbols, or practices, capable of migrating from one mind to another through speech, writing, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. In the field of human culture, memes figure as analogues to genes, in that they appear to self-replicate, responding to a range of pressures.

    The term 'meme' was first coined by the British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. The book itself presents a theory in which we as a species are governed by the survival and propagation of our genes. In this respect the idea of the meme might be said to run in parallel with that of the our genes, as examples of memes, Dawkins cited melodies, catch-phrases, beliefs (notably religious beliefs), clothing fashions, and the technology of building arches.

    Some meme-theorists suggest that memes evolve by natural selection (in a manner similar to that of biological evolution). They do this through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance influencing an individual entity's reproductive success. Memes spread through the behaviors that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and mutate. Some memes replicate effectively even when they prove detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.

    Memes often tend to group together and form what are called meme complexes, or 'memeplexes'. Usually many memeplexes can be found in the same person.
    It is also this idea of the way memes come together that is a big area for study and debate, bearing in mind it's a relatively new idea.

    The idea of memetics has led some such as Susan Blackmore a Psychology Lecturer to question the whether the whole idea of 'self' is an illusion. In her book The Meme Machine she says,
    "You are nothing more than a creation of genes and memes in a unique environment. Memes are ideas, skills, habits, stories, songs or inventions that are passed from person to person by imitation. They have shaped our minds, leading to the evo-lution of big brains and language because these served to spread the memes. But the memes with the cleverest trick are those that persuade us that our "selves" really exist. We all live our lives as a lie. The memes have made us do it--because giving us the illusion of "self" helps them to survive and spread."

    It is perhaps this new concept in thinking, the idea of having this whole other perspective on a way of seeing the how things work and ideas are spread that makes this such an exciting area of study.

    References:

    The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins, 1976
    The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore, 2000
    Cultural Vision: A Memeplex for the Cultural Evolution, J. Martin Knutsen, 2003
    The Electric Meme: A New Theory of How We Think, Robert Aunger, 2010



    Last edited by Ascended; October 30th, 2012 at 11:58 AM.
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  3. #2  
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    Hey Chrisgorlitz,
    Memes and Memetics
    Memes and Mimetics:

    So what is a Meme?...
    There is some confusion that seems to arise from the similar sound of two words: Mimetics and Memetics.

    This is a dialog that GiantEvil and I had on the subject on the theory of religion thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    There is a difference between Mimesis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Memetics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
    Futilitist is talking about Mimesis and not Memetics, particularly in the context of René Girard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
    Basically the primary thesis of Rene Girard, and hence Futilitist, is that all behavior has it's genesis in Imitation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Wiki on Rene Girard
    1. Mimetic desire: all of our desires are borrowed from other people;
    2. Mimetic rivalry: all conflict originates in mimetic desire;
    3. The scapegoat mechanism is the origin of sacrifice and the foundation of human culture, and religion was necessary in human evolution to control the violence that can come from mimetic rivalry;
    4. The Bible reveals the three previous ideas and denounces the scapegoat mechanism.
    I hope this clears up and simplifies things.
    Quote Originally Posted by Futilitist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    There is a difference between Mimesis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Memetics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
    Futilitist is talking about Mimesis and not Memetics, particularly in the context of René Girard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
    Basically the primary thesis of Rene Girard, and hence Futilitist, is that all behavior has it's genesis in Imitation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Wiki on Rene Girard
    1. Mimetic desire: all of our desires are borrowed from other people;
    2. Mimetic rivalry: all conflict originates in mimetic desire;
    3. The scapegoat mechanism is the origin of sacrifice and the foundation of human culture, and religion was necessary in human evolution to control the violence that can come from mimetic rivalry;
    4. The Bible reveals the three previous ideas and denounces the scapegoat mechanism.
    I hope this clears up and simplifies things.
    Hey thanks, GiantEvil. I did not realize there was this confusion.

    This confusion here stems from people being familiar with Richard Dawkins and memes, and unfamiliar with Rene Girard and mimetic theory.

    Futilitist is talking about Mimesis and not Memetics...
    To be perfectly clear, your statement above should say:

    Futilitist is talking about Mimetics and not Memetics...


    The confusion stems from the conflation of the letters i and e, along with the lack of knowledge of the existence of mimetic theory. This fine tuned statement directly addresses that confusion. The concept of mimesis goes back to Plato. Girard's mimetic theory is unique in that it contends that all desire is imitated. We need to be careful not to introduce another confusion.


    Stuff related to imitation and behavior
    :
    mimetics
    mimetic theory
    mimetic desire
    mimetic rivalry
    mimesis
    Rene Girard
    Stuff related to the meme concept:
    memes
    memetics
    memetic theory
    Richard Dawkins
    I hope this clears up and simplifies things even more.

    ---Futilitist
    I am planning to start a thread on Mimetic Theory very soon. I think we should keep the topics separate for now. Memetics is very important, however. Mimetics and Memetics are connected, and eventually do come together in my "Dark Thesis".

    ---Futilitist


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    Hi Futilitist, I would be interested in your take on 'Mimetics', 'Mimetic theory' etc.., as I'm not familiar with it and must confess I did indeed think you were talking about memetics.
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