Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Bit More on Memetics

Much of the studies of memetics going on today talk about the "propogation of ideas". To some extent, that is even what the word "meme" is thought to mean.

My interest is only marginally in the propagation of an idea. What I want to figure out is the way memes cause other memes.

There's lots of examples of what I'm talking about. One could be that if you comment that "religions are stupid", then religious people will get irritated. Either this or their subsequent defense of their religion will actually make them more dedicated to their religion. (Although it can also undermine their faith while their dedication increases - it's a complex issue related to an attempt to maintain control. It's not specific to religion.) So, an antagonistic idea strengthened its enemy.

More what I'm looking for, however, is how one meme requires or causes another. For example, if you are infected by the ideal of science, you will slowly but surely begin to be infected by related ideals. I don't know for certain whether this stems from culture or a fundamental concept, but either way it is related to or reflected by culture.

Someone who believes is the ideal of science will come to believe that anything - and everything - can be solved by application of this system of thought. If not now, then when enough data has been gathered. Other philosophies are similar: if you extract the core idea, it is often the case that the other bits of the philosophy will arise on their own, with only moderate cultural differences.

Religions usually have very similar cultural bits built into them, whether they are Shinto or Catholicism. Their exact implementation varies, but at their core they all develop the same "respect and hard work" side-effects. This is because they share the same fundamental purpose, and those ideals serve that purpose. They are corollaries, in the same way that scientific thought requires you to believe that science can be applied to anything, if technology has advanced enough to get the data needed.

Of course, not all religious people follow the core ideal of religion, and not all the scientists follow the core idea of science. The culture of these concepts grows very complex, in no small part because the corollaries strike many people as the important ideas, and those are the ideals they follow, rather than the original theme. This results in or from a culture of factionalism within every meme complex.

I wonder what the best way is to nail people to the central idea, rather than the corollaries? That way, you could measure corollaries and see whether they are cultural or fundamental.

Well, I know what my fundamental philosophy is: Olology. Maybe some day I'll post it. :)


Patrick Dugan said...

The idea of memeplexes descending from fundamental ideas is an imporant one to consider, I'm personally inclined to think (believe maybe) that there are no fundamental ideas, implying that any memeplexes evolved in response to a causally based material need. Maybe that view itself stems from a fundamental idea, you could call it Nothing with a capital "N".

The antagonistic strengthening you speak of reminds me of Goku and Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z. Their pertetuted rivalry led their them both enchancing their strength and thus mutual resitance by several orders of maginitude, in a ridiculously inflationary manner. If that sounds too geek, think of them as basic opponents in an dual ontology, the same goes for Yin and Yang, Oscar and Felix, Jack Thompson and uh... I guess a lot of people.

The colloraries you speak of might be seen as ancillary devices a memeplex evolves to encourage its reproduction, just like limbs and nervous systems and whatnot came about in a feedback loop which encouraged genetic reproduction. A far as religion goes, there are actually distinct genuses of organized faith. Christianity, Islam and Judaism in a genetically intertwined way are all what you could call "Exclusivitity-oriented" religions. These religions bear clauses such as "one you know THE TRUTH you'd better not reject it or you'll go to hell/ be stoned/ cause the elders to beat their breasts and nash their teeth." This couples with another collarary in the first two, the spreading of the religion is strongly encouraged and effected through various sociological patterns, which are really memetic epidimeologies.

I'm a fan of the other kind of religions, the one's based on more inclusive collararies where tolarance and personal variation is encouraged. Zen and Taoism, in particular hinge on the collarary that nothing is something, which is sort of like Godel's Incompleteness theorem for B.C era farmers. By implication any formal system calling itself Zen or Taoism will be devalued by this collarary. This makes for memeplexes that don't tend to spread so readily, but encourage new meta-memetic systems in their hosts, and thus (so the books say) much potential personal growth.

I'm a philosophical satanist on mondays, an agnostic on tuesdays, a taoist on wednesdays, a non-denominational pagan on thursdays, and a kabbalist on fridays. I like to keep the weekends open.

Craig Perko said...

I'm a little wary about posting dissections of religion, even though I've thought a great deal about it. Not all religions have the same core purpose. Zen Buddhism is a great example of a religion with a dramatically different purpose from most other religions. Neo-Paganism is another example.

By the way, I'd be thankful if you never mentioned Dragonball on my page again.

Patrick Dugan said...

Haha, fair enough about DBZ, but you get the point.

Your assesment of both those religions is right on, thats why I kinda sorta identify with both of them ;)