Dan wrote:Kelly: My library hold of "The Selfish Gene" is likely to take a few weeks. In the meantime, I found this from Wikipedia:The memetics movement split almost immediately into those who wanted to stick to Dawkins' definition of a meme as "a unit of information in the brain," and those who wanted to redefine it as observable cultural artefacts and behaviours. These two schools became known as the "internalists" and the "externalists." Prominent internalists included both Lynch and Brodie; the most vocal externalists included Derek Gatherer, a geneticist from Liverpool John Moores University and William Benzon, a writer on cultural evolution and music. The main rationale for externalism was that internal brain entities are not observable, and memetics cannot advance as a science, especially a quantitative science, unless it moves its emphasis onto the directly quantifiable aspects of culture.
This reminds me to point to my earlier query why Susan wasn't asked whether she thought memes inherently exist beyond consicousness.
Dan: I can think of a 100 questions that could have been asked that weren't. It's fairly pointless though thinking that way. Conversations just don't work like that. And I'm not sure how she could answer your question if she hasn't worked out what consciousness actually is.
This is not my point at all.
My point is that, if anyone is expressing great enthusiasm about a particular idea, meaning, their self-expression is clearly egotistical, then that idea ought to be delved into carefully. In Susan's case, "memetics" doesn't mean the enlightened view of cause and effect in relation to ideas and values, but one viewed through the lens of scientific materialism.
I'll try to unpack my theory more clearly, so you can have another look, as I think it's the most plausible explanation of her difficulties with the idea of non-attachment:
I believe Susan thinks that these memes are inherently existing in the world, outside consciousness, and are using human bodies to replicate themselves. She states she doesn't believe there is a soul, that replicates, because she has not seen any plausible scientific evidence, but is not sure. Note that she doesn't disbelieve in the replicating of selves --- this should ring warning bells. She holds selves to be memeplexes, or collections of memeplexes, meaning, bundles of cooperating memes striving for life. She does not state that memes are actually causally created - i.e. empty.
Now Susan's idea of her own consciousness is: memes, in the egotistical sense of the word. She sees herself as multiple, competing entities, striving for consciousness-resources. She believes that if she perceives consciousness to be driven by one coherent, unifying self, then that is a delusion leading to samsaric reincarnation ("I decide, I want, I think"). And, conversely, if she perceives consciousness as all these competing rebirthing memes, then that is a non-samsaric consciousness. The problem of not conceiving of one's finite self as a unified agent, is that one cannot logically use dualism. Sue discards dualism, she says something to that nature twice. The obvious flaw is that, to conceive of a memeplex in relation to one's consciousness, is to conceive of a unified self. But instead, Susan just conceives of herself as the Totality (of memes) - which she expresses as being "the interconnectedness of all things".
I came to this conclusion after some thinking, but I had a hunch immediately on encountering Susan's ideas a few years ago, that I should be on the lookout for the errors. I don't think one should agree with the "wise memes" (the enlightened view of memes, about wisdom) that a deluded person is expressing, because their understanding of those memes is guaranteed to be wrong.
Kelly: And it also looks as though memetics is definitely on the wrong track.
Dan: Ok, in what sense? Memetics seems almost platitudinously obvious to me.
Because the current meaning of this word is filtered through scientific materialism, in which ideas are not existing within the mind, but in cultures outside it.
Yes, I accept to be truthful what I believe your filter is: that memes don't inherently exist, but are simply meanings that continue to arise in the universe. That is not the filter Sue uses, Dan. Susan doesn't hold your view, nor does she hold the view that they don't exist at all (but she probably now believes you hold her view, which is simply that they exist - inherently). So your agreement with and support of Susan is wrong.
Kelly: I'm not saying she's completely gullible and fashionable, but she is noticeably susceptible to being influenced. Such that she'd absorb and replicate what others were fertilising her with, unless of course those ideas and values were too painful --- then she'd just steamroller them and say, "This is how it must be, and is, and always is, Amen".
Dan: Well, everybody's like this to some degree. Are you not influenced by Kevin when you sit and have conversations with him? It's a fine line between being open minded and simply open to influence. I can't really say where Sue Blackmore is with respect to that. She's not wise so there's probably a bit of both happening.
There is conscious cause and effect, and there is unconscious. To the degree I take ideas on board without reasoning to see whether they are viable, I have something wrong with my mind.
If a person doesn't have a strong value of truth, they are highly likely to take ideas on board without reasoning about them - or not take ideas on board for the same reason.
It was rather obvious with Sue's near-tantrum about emotions, don't you think? She simply asserted that emotions were necessary and human, without ever getting into any reasoning about why. To me, that indicates lack of the spirit of truth.
Dan: There's nothing inherently wrong with encouraging people. It's when you do their thinking for them that it becomes a problem.
Kelly: Suggestive behaviour is also a problem.
Dan: Can you be specific?
Losing one's train of thought after laughing at someone's joke, shows that one enjoys company and fun rather than truth. It can influence a vulnerable listener to steer clear of reasoning deeply, because they may think, "Reasoning is difficult, not fun, and unenjoyable, and I would rather fit in and be accepted".
Stumbling over one's words, and being emotional, shows that one is reluctant to think deeply and calmly, and to present one's view of reality exactly how one sees it. A listener may think, "There is something to be ashamed of in speaking about the truth. There is something bad about it. I don't want to engage in it."
Agreeing with someone when there is no need to establish areas of agreement shows one wishes to associate with someone, which can influence a listener to think, "He does not wish to present his own views, but to support whatever I say. Therefore, I must be right, or he must be weak to come over to my side. If my views are not sound, then his views are also worthless."
Dan: And there's also a difference between showing someone support and attacking the folly of their detractors. In my supportive attitude towards Sue I was actually taking an opportunity to attack people such as Paul Davies. I was using it as a vehicle through which to point out the irrationality of the science community. David did this too when speaking of academia.
Kelly: Logically, yes. But to a gullible person, it is the same as bonding with them.
Dan: That's unavoidable. Just talking to a person can have this effect.
Areeing with people worsens it. It is generally better to be silent when one agrees, and to talk when one disagrees - even if one's corrections are only subtle adjustments.
Being afraid of conflict is not a good thing for consciousness.
Kelly: I mean, your definition of memetics is purely unemotional, but Susan describes memes emotionally, so there is some egotistical meaning in there.
Dan: It's one of her major interests so I've no doubt there's some emotional attachment to it. She's obviously passionate about it, but I don't see her ascribing anthropic qualities to memes (other than in the poetic use of language).
If a person shows signs of loving to talk and go flowie, then you can deduct that they are ascribing egotistical properties to everything.
Kelly: Saying that her definition is accurate is therefore false, if you define memes as causes occurring in consciousness - meaning, empty of inherent existence.
Dan: You've lost me.
If you define memes wisely, and someone else defines them foolishly, then it is wrong for you to agree with their definition.
Kelly: Humour is great to undermine the delusion that things inherently exist, and can also be used to avoid thinking.
Dan: Still lost.
Referring to your "deep, sexy voice" joke.
Kelly: I'm kind of surprised at how flippant you are about your influence as a teacher. It's very feminine behaviour, Dan.
Dan: Hmm. The fact is I happen to think memetics is a perfectly valid way of seeing things (up to a point and within the limitations of what science can say). It's just an evolutionary theory framed within the principle of natural selection. It's not a profound philosophical thesis, though it does, like evolutionary theory in general, have some philosophical implications that can be followed.
It's my opinion that you don't understand it at all. Either that or I am, as you suggest, projecting validity and meaning onto it that isn't there.
Memetics is not a perfectly valid way of seeing things if it is viewed through the filter of scientific materialism, which is what deluded people do. Do you believe all things are memes, or that memes are only a certain type of finite thing?