Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Blackmore and her ideas with which I cannot agree…..

Susan Blackmore wrote me 2 emails with many statements which cannot be considered perfect. I have taken out all of my books on memetics and found interesting ideas; especially in Richard Dawkin´s “The extended phenotype”. Dawkins writes there about phenotypic effects of memes, which can be visible or audible, etc. He also states that memes are stored in brain.

Then it is really strange that Susan Blackmore tries to make me believe that memes are not in human brains, she also maintains that “her screwed up face” is not an expression of some kind of meme residing in her brain. It is also strange as Dawkins defines the phenotypic effects of memes as music, etc and also as a facial expression.

One would incline to believe that Susan Blackmore does not read books by Dawkins, or when she reads them she does not understand too much. In such a case it must also be considered as strange that such a lady write books on something she does not fully understand and thus mystifies her readers.

Basically all of us a captives of our memes, so is Richard Dawkins. He writes about phenotypic effects of memes, as a parallel to genetics. I, myself, being economist, am not caught by biology memes. I think that it would be much better to describe theses “phenotypic effects” as signs, or maybe signals, based on semiotics.

I also believe that Dawkin´s idea of phenotypic effects of memes cannot be correct. These phenotypic effects are not really effects; they are the vehicles to transport memes.

Let’s take a piece of music as an example. According to Dawkins a piece of music must be an effect of some meme or a meme pool. I believe he did not see it quite right. Music is only pressed air, a wave of sound with some frequency. Some sounds, that is some waves of sound will never be a song, nevertheless they represent something for us. Just imagine the strange and basically for all of us unpleasant and squeaking sound of a chalk on blackboard.

I would offer another hypothesis: sounds, the pressed air is something which happens regardless whether we, humans are or are not listening to it: the sounds of tree leaves in the air, the sound of falling rain drops, the sound of thunders, the sound of a bro ken and falling tree, the bubbling sound of a small waterfall or a creek, the sound of an avalanche, or the sound of sea waves on a beach. There are millions of examples of different sounds, pressed air waves which for sure are not the phenotypic effect of memes.

As the organisms start to develop they must have needed some kind of receptors to get the information about the outside world. As waves can be perceived by different types of receptors, we may see even today different ways how different animals get the information by waves. Just think of bats, some fish or sharks, or take dogs.

Some sounds were, for whatever reason, felt as pleasing, positive, and some others as negative, displeasing sounds; as the squeaking sounds of chalk on board. This differentiation must have happened already thousands or even million years ago, and got stored as information, as social or cultural information, cultural in a non-human sense, even bees have their culture, of course, we do not grasp that that way, but they do. They have habits, habits of how to communicate with each other and habits how to protect and build up the next generation. From their point of view it is cultural information, a meme.

As our human brain has developed based upon other brains, e.g. snake brain, we still have some reactions stored there and under stress we do react as snake or we exhibit similar body reactions.

One could then see that the same happened with sounds, some sound were pleasing and some not, and today a some is felt as nice if certain sequence of tones corresponds with some pleasing sounds stored in our brain for millions of years.

So a song cannot be a phenotypic effect of a meme, it is opposite; the sound is only a transport means for memes. If a sound would be a phenotypic effect of meme, then squeaking car or train breaks would have to be brains where some memes were residing, this seems to me not too much correct.

Later this system of pleasing and displeasing sounds was discovered and made use of, then, it became a sort of phenotypic effect. But the origin of sounds is not memetic at all.

And this is valid for all types of signs or signals, - not only audio signs - they occured occationally, then they were made use of, and then they bacame transportation means of memes.

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