A sigh of disappointment...

Tue, 15 Feb 1994 01:21:36 -0500

The debate around memetics and CyberAnthropology was invigorating, but
strangely the areas where I expected (and eagerly) desired challenge, I did
not see any.

People challenged the usefulness of the concept of memetics. They suggested
that CyberAnthropology belonged on another list dealing with cybernetics.

CyberAnthropology in part arose out of my desire to show that, yes, even
paradigms in anthropology can and do draw from things going on within the
culture within which anthropologists operate. And in part because there are
ideas within those seven propositions - especially the seventh - which I
consider to be crucially important.

But not a soul said, "HEY! Wait a minute! These systems are reductionist!
They lead to a model of human existence which is mechanistic and

The real question one should ask when confronted with memetics is, "Am I
just a composting pile for memes?"

The answer to that question is no. Culture is made out of a lot of things
other than memes. Fortunately so, for memes transform an authentic human
existence into a mechanical one. Humans cannot be completely reprogrammed;
"brainwashers" have always known this. The inhuman thing about many
ideologies is that they try to wipe out a person in order to create a
meme-reproducing machine.

Instead of arguing about the "usefulness" of the memetics concept, we might
have looked at ways in which memes dehumanize human life. Instead of
arguing about the "usefulness" of cyberanthropology, someone should have
said, "NO! Humans are not machines; their brains are not computers; their
minds are more than meme factories; culture is organic, not mechanically
determined." But that still small voice was not heard.

Part of what troubled me over the debate over "culture" is that the object
of study of anthropology is not "culture" but "human beings." And that
looking for mechanical explanations of culture seems to suggest that
mechanical devices are the operants which produce said phenomenon.

And that in anthropology we tend to treat our research object as a means
rather than an end. (Instead of arguing over the "usefulness" of our
concepts, perhaps we might consider their "meaning." Hint.) This procedure
may be appropriate for engineers. Is it for anthropologists?

Now broadcasting to you from the right hemisphere,

Seeker1 [@Nervm.Nerdc.Ufl.Edu] (real info available on request)
Anthropomorphist, Metanoid, Lerian, MatrixWanderer, HyperRealist, etc.
Rhipidon Society, VALISystem A, Sol Node 3
"Philip K. Dick is dead, alas/ Let's queue up and kick G-d's ass." --
Michael Bishop, the Secret Ascension