Re: CFP: ASSC4 "The Unity of Consciousness: Binding, Integration and Dissociation"

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Mon, 8 Nov 1999 15:45:17 -0800 (PST)

> I like Dennett too, but I am not sure I am sold on the ideas of memes.
> Certainly from the perspective of the conference. How do you think memes
> would resolve any of the binding problems?
> I am sort of curious: people talk about memes as this really groovy
> explanation, but I can't see them as being an improvement over the ideas
> associated with cognition. How is 'memetics' a more powerful tool for
> understanding thoughts, emotions, or consciousness, than those developed
> in cognitive neuroscience (which lack any mention of memes).

You're right of course: memetics doesn't tell you anything about how the brain works, any more than genetics tells you how DNA works. It's quite the opposite perspective. Evolution of DNA explains many of the physical traits we see in various animal species; similarly, memetics can explain some of the aspects of human culture that the human mind has produced, but it has nothing at all to say about how the mind itself works--that's still being shaped by good old DNA. Once a kid starts learning, his actions may be shaped by memetic inheritance, but the brain itself and how it processes thoughts and emotions are already formed at birth. If it weren't, there wouldn't be any medium for memes to replicate in.

The only slight influence memetic evolution might have on the working of the brain itself is through pseudo-Lamarckian Baldwin effects (i.e., cultural choices as an environmental factor selecting for genetic traits).

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
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