Re: virus: The Meme Machine

Dan Plante (
Fri, 02 Apr 1999 01:05:10 -0800

At 07:04 AM 02/04/99 +0100, Robin Faichney wrote:

>Dan Plante <> writes
>>I see that this whole "level" thing has gained some currency
>>with some old timers since my last foray. Did the Brodiemeister
>>finally spill a useful definition, or did he keep beating you guys
>>over the head with it until you did the work for him? ;-)
>"Useful" is a subjective judgement. What Richard says
>about levels is useful to me, obviously not to you (or
>not in your current mindset).

Since I don't know whether he has added anything about levels in the last 8 months or so, the suggestion that I find no utility in what it may or may not be, seems somewhat premature. The assertion that this non-existant opinion is not only negative, but /obvious/, I find quite baffling.

Perhaps the playfully irreverent tone of my question led you to misinterpret my intentions and respond in a way reminiscient of the devoutly religious responding to an attack on their faith. Nothing could have been further from my mind, I assure you. I don't attempt to have a rational discussion about irrational beliefs as a matter of policy. Gave it up for Lent. I was, in fact, merely attempting to poke fun at the long, heated exchanges that this subject has elicited on this list in the past.

But I digress. You were mentioning something about mindsets?

>>> E.g., she sees very clearly
>>>that "self" is a memeplex, but doesn't seem to realise that's
>>>equally true for consciousness and matter -- she talks about
>>>"the physical self" as if that would remain once all memes
>>>had been discounted. On the other hand, of course, if she had
>>>gotten all that right, there would have been nothing left for
>>>me to do! :-)
>>A group of information patterns, or memeplex, by itself does not
>>constitute a self or an ego, any more than a filled-up hard drive
>>sitting alone on a shelf constitutes a computer. Without a motive
>>force (emotion/desire), it is inert.
>Is your "motive force" akin to "the life force"?

By using the term "motive force" I was attempting to convey a more generic concept. In electronics theory, voltage is more formally refered to as "electro-motive force", or EMF. It is described as the electrical "pressure" that forces a current through a circuit and makes it do something. There are other parallels. Perhaps the "it" in "it is inert" seemed like it was referring to the hard drive rather that the memecomplex? That might have confused the issue.

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". 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). 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.

>>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.

> Being dogmatic
>about such stuff is futile.

"Futile" is a subjective judgement. ;-)

>>Also, the self (or ego) is not simply the sum of these three aspects
>>of mind rolled up in a ball; it is a distinct, emergent thing that arises
>>out of the dynamically stabilized interaction of the three parts.
>Hey, speak for your self, not mine.

OK. Stipulated.