Re: virus: The Meme Machine

Robin Faichney (
Fri, 2 Apr 1999 13:07:40 +0100

In message <>, Dan Plante <> writes
>The point I was trying to make is that memecomplexes, being simply
>patterns of information, in and of themselves do not contain or manifest
>their own intentionality, and therefore will not /do/ anything on their own,
>including think, or manifest anything like an ego, or a "self".

Ha! The active/passive thing again. It came up on the memetics list the other day. Trouble is, intuitive as it may be, it seems to have no real validity. I understand why you think information is passive, but there are at least two major problems with that assumption: (1) there is no rigorous definition of passivity, and relativity theory suggests that there can never be one; (2) there is no difference in fact -- rather than interpretation -- between information flow and energy flow (see So information can be highly dynamic.

>Emotion/desire forces Intelligence to access Memory (memes and
>memeplexes) to identify the things it desires (or to find patterns that
>might help it to refine its approach to getting what it wants, etc).

Is it just the capitalisation that makes me feel this is quaintly dated? Did you think it up yourself, or get it from someone else? Where does consciousness come into your picture, if at all?

>Remove any of these three fundamental aspects of cognition, and
>the mind (thought, self, ego) vanishes as surely as an electronic
>oscillator will stop oscillating if you remove the power, or remove the gain,
>or remove the positive feedback. All three fundamental characteristics
>are required to manifest the emergent property of oscillation.

That's a nice story in a way, but I think the mind/thought/self/ego thing is just too vague to be useful.

>>>Even memory and emotion together,
>>>without intelligence providing the ability to recognise patterns
>>>(thereby identifying the objects of desire), produce nothing coherent
>>>enough to term a "self".
>>What you "term a 'self'" is up to you.
>Of course, you could be of the opinion that "self" or "ego" is independant
>of cognition, and therefore of the phenomenon of "mind", assuming, of
>course, that "the mind is what the brain does". If so, this qualifies as
>metaphysics (in the popular sense of the term), and would not be
>something I would be prepared to comment on.

Please humour me, and answer this: do you get the impression that I'd take that sort of view?

Maybe I'm beginning to understand what you're getting at. To oneself, the self is thinking and such. To someone else, it's body+behaviour, right? So how do these "internal" and "external" selves relate to each other? Could there be one without the other? Is the "self" phenomenon subjective or objective?