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

Popper’s hierarchical concept of World 3 leads to the postulation above of the fundamental propositions of logic as memetic nucleotides. It is important to note that we are not here concerned with what may or may not be true about ancient or modern systems of logic. Logic is learned and therefore subject to the same selective pressures as all other memes.
The basic propositions of logic were very much the concern of Anglo-American philosophers at the turn of the century. Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) and Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), having produced their magnum opus on the logical foundations of mathematics, Principia Mathematica, were concerned to extend this solid foundation to all language. This endeavour, Logical Atomism, was designed to provide an ideal language which would be the foundation of all sciences. Their failure to do so resulted in Whitehead’s rapid movement into mysticism, while Russell turned to other activities such as history and political campaigning.
Despite the despondency of the Cambridge philosophers, the torch of Logical Atomism was taken up by a young Austrian, Ludwig Wittgenstein. In his main early work, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus [50], Wittgenstein describes a logical world built from `atomic facts‘, the constituents of simple propositions, which are either true or false. `The World‘ is the totality of true propositions. There are also pseudo-propositions which arise owing to the illogical structure of human language. For memeticists, the `truth-value‘ of a proposition is of less importance than its ability to replicate; both genuine propositions and pseudo-propositions can be considered as memes.
At this point, it should be pointed out that caution must be exercised in co-opting Wittgenstein and the Logical Atomists as forerunners of memetics. Wittgenstein’s world of propositions is static and he has little if anything to say about change, let alone evolution, whereas memes are to be regarded as the component parts of an evolving meme pool, much of which, it must be remembered, may be pseudo-propositional. Wittgenstein ([50], Section 6) regards logic, the a priori part of science, mathematics, ethics and philosophy as pseudo-propositional. Interestingly, an early draft of the Tractatus includes the phrase `a theme in music is a proposition’ (Prototractatus 3.16021 quoted by Kenny [21]), but the final draft omits this phrase, confining itself to consideration of what is or is not the case, and excluding the vagaries of the symbolic, ethical or artistic as things which, as Wittgenstein insisted, cannot be said, only shown. Nevertheless, a memeticist may retort that what can be shown can be transmitted, and therefore can evolve. One philosopher who was very much concerned with evolution of the symbolic was the founder of what became the discipline of Semiotics, Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914).

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