Re: virus: memes and anti-memes

Sun, 10 Jan 1999 20:20:19 -0800

Hey Twelve,

I think several things could fill your "opposite of a meme" niche depending on what flavor of meme definition you favor. Some people are hooked on the straight meme/gene metaphor, and if you wanted to find the opposite of a meme in this sense, then you might start by asking, "What is the opposite of a gene?" and then applying the meme/gene metaphor to it to see if what you've got has a handy label.

When I think of a meme, I'm thinking of a pattern of information as conceived of from a historical vantagepoint. By that I mean that if this pattern, say an idea, is something you see in relation to one particular instantiation or vector; something you might think of as "my idea" or "his style," then you're not thinking of it as a meme. The memetic perspective is a historical perspective from which one doesn't conceive of a meme as something produced by or long-dependent on a single human mind, but rather as something that exists and evolves over time by passing through a number of vectors.

What is the opposite of a meme when you conceive of the meme as something viewed from a historical perspective?

I would think that it would be something that is tied to a specific time and place and to a specific instantiating event in a specific human mind. Perhaps the opposite of a meme is a quale. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy defines qualia as the "phenomenal properties" or "qualitative features" of an experience. "Those properties of mental states or events, in particular of sensations and perceptual states, which determine "what it is like" to have them."

The meme is the opposite of the quale in that it is something that is, by definition, multiply realizable. It is realized or instantiated anew by each new vector through which it passes on it's course through history. The subjective quality of a mental state is something tied to a particular mental event or set of events. There is no conceiving of the qualitative aspects of a unique experience without also conceiving of that particular experience.

What is the opposite of a meme? A quale? What else?


twelve wrote:
> What is the opposite of a meme? er, perhaps a better way to ask that
> is: Does a meme have an opposite?
> no this isn't a riddle. i was curious as to what you the people of the
> list would say.
> .t
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