Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In The Beginning Was The Word

Some critics of Meme Theory say memes are unprovable and therefore memetics is a branch of philosophy, not science.  We can't see a meme or a memeplex in an fMRI scan.  We can't see them anywhere.  Or can we?  The critics search is too narrow.

Daniel Dennett asks an important question at the beginning of his lecture at Zurich.Minds in 2009.  "Do words exist?"  Words transmit culture.  Complex societies have developed from the evolution of language.  This development of verbal communication is seen as the dawn of the human race.

Civilization blossomed at the advent of writing.  Before writing, extrasomatic knowledge was stored in tools and other artifacts.  Knowledge was acquired primarily through individual experience and interpersonal communication. 

Writing allows information to be stored outside the human mind and yet (once decoded) transmit information to a reader as long as the tablet, stone or paper survives.  Writing makes memes & memeplexes more enduring.  It increases transmission to a larger audience and preserves fidelity to the original idea.  Thus, writing is a significant evolutionary step for memes and memeplexes.

So if you are looking for physical evidence of a meme, look no further than the printed page.  Memeplexes reside on your bookshelf.   They're not just in our heads.


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