Macromemetics

Macromemetics

Abstract
1. Introduction and Summary
2. Western Philosophy Divided
3. The Hierarchical Structure of the Meme Pool and Popper"s World 3
3.1 Meme pools and the total cultural apparatus of societies
4. The Cultural Evolutionary School of Social Anthropology
4.1 Evolutionary Analysis of Civilisations
5. Memetics and 20th Century Philosophy
5.1 Memes and Pragmatism
5.2 Popper and Evolutionary Epistemology
5.3 Saussure and Signifiers
5.4 Foucault and the Episteme
6. Conclusion: The Role of Memetics
References

Just as Deconstructionism and detailed memetic analysis display parallels at the lower levels of the memetic hierarchy, similarities can also be seen between the `macromemetic‘ approach of cultural evolutionism and the theory of succeeding `epistemes‘, or total systems of thought, described in the famous structuralist work of the 1960s, Les Mots et les Choses [16], by Michel Foucault (1926-1984). Foucault advances an argument for a saltatory view of cultural change, with epistemes replacing each other in periods of revolutionary cultural change. The early cultural evolutionists considered above were gradualists in the spirit of early Darwinism. Now that it is apparent that punctuated equilibria may be a feature of biological evolution (Stanley [44]), macromemetics may also admit revolutionary changes. As Madan Sarup points out [37], there are many similarities between Foucault’s notion of the `normative society‘ and Thomas Kuhn’s independently developed concept of normal science interrupted by periods of scientific revolution [22]. Kuhn’s `paradigms‘ are similar to Foucault’s epistemes, except that they apply more narrowly to science rather than to culture as a whole.
One of Foucault’s principal concerns was to reject any possibility of a single unifying theory. He thus rejects Marxism. It might be objected that he would have done the same to memetics. However, in defence of our nascent discipline, it must be emphasised that memetics is not really a totalising metanarrative. It is not really a `grand recit‘, like Marxism, where the world is evolving towards a certain inevitable endpoint, for instance in Marxism the endpoint is the achievement of world Communism. Darwinian evolution has no `guiding hand’ behind it. It may have direction, but that is only in response to consistent selection pressure (Gould [18]). If the selection pressure changes, the direction trend of the response may be diverted or go into reverse. The occasional structuralist accusation that evolution is a `grand recit‘/metanarrative is therefore unjustified.

AuthorDerek Gatherer
2018-08-21T17:23:37+00:00 August 1st, 2002|Categories: Literature, Essays, Blesok no. 27|0 Comments