PHIL: Memes & Free Will?

Christopher Fedeli (
Sun, 8 Mar 98 03:55:35 UT

James Daugherty ( wrote:

>As Gurdjieff pointed-out, most individuals fail to be individuals. They
>are cells in social organisms controlled by the collective's memetic
>field....similar to the Borg.

My question is this - which individuals do not fail to be individuals? It
seems that all of us, populace and cognoscenti alike, are subject to the same
set of principles that govern our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.

Whether I believe the government is telling the truth about TWA flight 800 or
that it was hit by a missile, either way my beliefs have been determined by
memes. I've either been influenced by the memes of the government / media or
by the alternative memes that come to me by way of Ian Goddard and others. In
either case, I have exercised no more choice in the matter than that of any
borg drone.

My point - we can not exercise control over which memes take to our mind.
Whichever story I wind up buying on this or any other issue will have been
determined by the shape of my mind at the time I first consider it, which was
determined by the last million things I heard, etc, etc.

Don't believe me? I've noticed a strong tendency for all memetically minded
thinkers to keep clinging to some notion of the metaphysical "I". How can one
accept that all of our traits came to be the way that they are by the
evolution of genes and memes, and yet still think that somewhere 'in there' is
a "me" who is capable of exercising some control over the process?

To take a famous example, Richard Dawkins argues that humans can "rebel
against the tyranny of the selfish replicators." He gives the example that
every time we use contraception, we are rebelling against the tyranny of genes
who want us to procreate. But who is really rebelling in this example? To
me, this seems like an case of the meme for contraception winning a big
victory in the battle for survival against certain genes. But to hypothesize
a magical "self" that lurks around in our brains, deciding which memes and
which genes will exercise influence over our behaviors at which time is a joke
that no reflective thinker could suffer.

Will anyone argue differently?