Re: Darwin Spencer Genes Memes

Fri, 4 Feb 1994 09:48:12 -0500

>Well.. to be honest, Darwinian evolution is not dependent upon genes in
>any case. Historically, Darwin didn't know squat about genes. His
>theory of heredity was simply wrong. I believe that the confusion of
>genetics and darwinian evolution probably arose from the very success of
>the New Sytheseis in mid-century. After almost half a century during
>which the mendelians and dawinists were at each others' throats, the
>realisation that the theories were not only compatable, but that they
>were mutually re-inforcing must have come as quite a jolt! Somehow
>"genetics is darwian and genes evolve" became equated with "evolution is
>genetic and darwinism applies only to genes." Quite beyond me how this
>ever happened but clearly it did!

The "Selfish Gene" tries to move evolutionary analysis to the level of the
gene instead of the organism. That is, Dawkins wants to look how certain
genes succeed in replicating themselves, and others fail. He begins with
looking at how genes manipulate organisms for their propagation. Then he
tries to expand this analysis briefly to suggest 'memes' can be looked at
the same way as genes - units of information that also seek propagation
through manipulating (conscious, communication-ready) organisms.

>> Clearly a different model of selection is needed.
>We can use the same model for *selection*. It is models for heredity,
>"vehicles" and "replicators" that need to be altered.

Ah, but there's the rub! If the model for selection remains the same, then
how do we determine the "inclusive fitness" of the meme? We can examine
such things as speed and breadth and quantity of replication (how fast, how
far, how many exact copies of self); but how do we know how 'adapted' a
meme is to a particular 'environment'?

>> "Coevolution" does need to be examined... especially the symbiotic
>> relationships between memetic systems and certain genetic populations; and
>> also the cooperative "agreements" established between certain memetic
>> systems that might otherwise be forced to compete, through such things as
>> "the separation of Church and State..."
>In terms of these sorts of issues (interface of genetic and cultural
>systems) I highly recommend Durham's recent volume. It should come as
>no real surprise that cultural and genetic systems interact -- after all
>it was this very sort of interaction of behaviour and genetic systems that
>permitted cultural systems to arise in the first place!

Ah, yes, we are back to the matter of Lt. Commander Data's mysterious
change of niche, and his dog in the night time...

> Dave Rindos
> Australian Foundation for Archaeological Sciences
> 20 Herdsmans Parade Wembley WA 6014 AUSTRALIA
> Ph:+61 9 387 6281 (GMT+8) FAX:+61 9 380 1051 (USEST+13)
Seeker1 [@Nervm.Nerdc.Ufl.Edu] (real info available on request)
Anthropologist, Cybernaut, PoMoDemite, Noetician, Situationiste, et al.
University of Florida, Gainesville, Cosmic Nexus of the Universal Matrix
"'Tis an ill wind that blows no minds!" --Malaclypse the Younger