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

Since the time of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), Western philosophy has been split into two main traditions, namely Continental philosophy which took its lead from J.G. Fichte (1762-1814) and developed via G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831) and Karl Marx (1818-1883) into 20th century Existentialism and Structuralism, and secondly Anglo-American philosophy which continued the radical empiricist tradition of David Hume (1711-1776) as developed by Bertrand Russell (1872-1970). The labels Continental and Anglo-American are unfortunate in that they imply some kind of geographical separation of the two traditions. While this is true to a certain degree, many of the principal figures in the Anglo-American tradition have been native German-speakers, such as Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Karl Popper (1902-1994) and the various members of the Vienna circle. Conversely, Continental philosophy is now increasingly popular in Britain and the USA, although usually in academic departments of literature and cultural studies rather than those of philosophy (concise reviews of the two traditions are provided by Scruton [40] and Pears & Kenny [29]).
Anglo-American philosophy primarily concerns itself with logic, philosophy of science and linguistic analysis of meaning. Continental philosophy, on the other hand, is interested in politics, aesthetics, culture and `mind‘, all topics generally regarded as too diffuse and intangible for the more logic– and science-oriented Anglo-Americans. In recent years a certain cross-fertilisation has taken place, with Wittgenstein’s later work being of influence in both main branches [51]. Additionally, with the development of what is known as Cognitive Science, the subject of `mind‘ and consciousness is becoming respectable again in the Anglo-American philosophical world (reviewed by Gardner [17]).
The principal thesis of this essay is that memetics, being applicable to all transmitted information whether scientific or more generally cultural, provides a means for reuniting Western philosophy. Many of the concerns of Continental philosophers, such as the state of society and social change, are approachable using memetics, and much of their terminology and conceptual framework can be re-expressed in memetic terms. This is not so unlikely as one might initially suspect, since the roots of Structuralism are in 19th century cultural evolutionism. Before dealing with this proposal in more detail, some consideration will be given to the meme-gene analogy and its relevance to the subject of `culture‘.

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