Re: virus: Blackmore's book

Robin Faichney (
Thu, 17 Jun 1999 20:33:27 +0100

Eric writes
>a couple of hours of thought -- and, you know, I really think
>Blackmore's onto something. If memetics can explain the origin of
>complex "design" and knowledge in culture, then *why* to we need to
>postulate "creativity"? It's like one of Dennett's unnecessary "sky
>hooks". The only real objection doesn't address the truth of the
>issue, it address the nature of that truth: ugly and immoral!
>If we are nothing but the hosts for memes and genes, and one doesn't
>need to postulate freewill or creativity to explain the origin of
>design (in any of it's forms) around us, then where is the meaning?
>(of life)

I believe SB goes too far, in terms of both Buddhism and realism. In Buddhist terms, she is guilty of "nihilism" -- the insistence that self does not exist. The equally "sinful" opposite is "eternalism" -- the insistence that the self not only exists, but does so for eternity. My view -- and I think it's in accord with Buddhism -- is that, for some purposes, the self exists, while for others it does not. (What Buddhism actually says is: the self neither exists nor does not exist.) From the point of view of memetics, I think it's clear that the self does not exist as anything other than a memeplex. However, seems to me we still need to use the concept for some social and other purposes. Nick Rose, who works alongside SB, has a piece on the memetic self at (section 5, Self-centered Selectionism), which I think is highly relevant to CoV, though rather problematic for it too. On the other hand, if CoV adopts *my* view, that problem is avoided. :-)

Robin Faichney
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