Re: virus: memetics=calculus???
Tue, 2 Feb 1999 14:32:56 EST

In a message dated 2/1/99 1:58:27 PM Central Standard Time, writes:

<< Development of Cultural Psychology--Understanding Memetics I was born in 1968. Since then, the population of the world has doubled and technological development has pounced forward at an unprecedented rate. In 1968, the quantity of facts was greater than it had ever been. In addition, the shelf life of a scientific fact was shorter than it had ever been before. When I was born, learning was a two fold struggle like no generation before me encountered. I had to learn the language of the culture at the same time I had to keep up with the changes in the conversation. It feels likely this trend will continue.

Since 1968, the timespan between a fact being established and a new discovery challenging that same fact has continued to diminish. In addition, the number of facts continues to grow exponentially. No wonder so many of us feel disoriented. As a culture, we are suffering from knowledge overchoice. There are so many things that are knowable, it is difficult to chose what one wants to know.>>

Then we need better criteria for selection. This includes not only deciding what know, but allowing ourselves to forget stuff that isn't useful. I find myself able to stay abrest of science generally, sticking to major concepts and saving detailed knowlege for a few fields that I find more crucial. There are many philosophers that I think are totally useless, though I find philosophy as a passion a very useful thing. I keep myself a couple of handy dictionaries of philosophy, and then I just read in depth the ones that are most useful. There are even some, like Neitsche, that I am sure are very good, but I am afraid I won't ever have time to actually read him. I read him through others.

I can recommend a very good book, Cultural Selection, By Gary Taylor, that deals very well with this struggle between deciding what to remember and what to forget. Here is a link to a webpage on that discusses this book. If you notice, I reviewed it myself. ---> <A HREF="
">Cultural Selection; Why Some Achievements Survive the Test of Time and
Others Don't</A>.

Another very good web resource on knowlege selection is in Principia Cybernetica. ---> Evolutionary Approach to Epistemology</A>.

A lot of the rest of your post seemd to be struggling to put human history in an evolutionary perspective. A very good web resource on this would be Benzon and Hays's work on cultural evolution. They take a very unique cognitive approach that incorporates meme concepts as well. They break it down into essentially the evolution of four cognitive devices: the first is metaphor; the next is metalingual definition; third is the algorithm; and the proposed fourth is computational modeling. ----> Cultural Evolution </A>.

Metaphor is probably genetically based, and is generally responsible for human language ability. Metalingual definition was made possible by written language and made philosophy and law viable. Algorithms were created by the development of mathematics, and made much of modern scientific understanding possible. Computational modeling promises to carry science beyond the limits that traditional reductionistic science has explored, and provide us with tools to understand evolutionary systems - which describe the underlying foundations of all systems in our universe in some form or another.

Speaking of which, if you haven't, I suggest that you read Darwin's Dangerous Idea by Daniel Dennet. It is all about evolution in many different areas, including but interestingly not limited to biology. In philosophy, that is an essential one.

You sound like you are seriously reaching out into new ways of thinking. Don't get too comfortable with any new way of looking at it. As you refine these new ways of looking at things, more paradigm shifts occur along the way, at least that is my experience. But the biggest one is embracing evolution as being a much bigger issue than just biology, and you seem to be well on your way on that one. I haven't really been the same person in many ways since I read Darwin's Dangerous Idea. Alhthough I am even now in conflict with a few of the things in there, I still mark that work as the one that started the avalanche.

Another quick-read web resource that has had significant impact on me since DDI ----> Kogawara - Non-Justificational Rationalism</A>

Good luck,