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Uriah



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PostSubject: We Are Computers   Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:14 am

(Constantly Calculating The Chaos Of The Cultural Memeplex)


People often use the term "human nature" to denote that in us which is universal, immutable. However, we have two natures. On the one hand we are biological organisms ruled by our physiology and genetic blueprint, and on the other we are individuals enculturized into a given belief system and culture. It's the old "Nature vs Nurture" debate, though realize there really is no VS. about it at all - who and what we are is determined by both our mothers: Mother Nature, and Mother Culture. And that is natural. The human being, as comprised by our first and second natures, is very similar to a computer. The genetic nature of man can easily be likened to a computer’s hardware profile (its motherboard, memory, processing speed, etc…) and our cultural (memetic) nature can then be likened to the software that computer is running. The software is very much dependant upon the hardware, but it is much more dynamic, and is the means by which the hardware works at all. Taking that idea further it is the memetic software that drives the genetic hardware. The very basic building block of that cultural program code is the meme. A meme is basically any idea that takes root in culture, in the collective conscious (or unconscious) and then spreads. The meme operates in terms that are very biological in nature. Transmitting itself, and replicating, from brain to brain – host to host – in much the same fashion that virus does. As well, memes and genes are similar in that they, like the computer example above, dictate who we are, and how we generally perceive the world around us, and our place in it.

Memes operate in a virus-like fashion. Moving about, as free agents of sorts, from brain to brain in an effort to replicate. In fact, replication and survival are the memes’ main goal, and this is another way their attributes have an organic, biological, character. However, this must not be taken to mean that memes operate with a kind of consciousness. Rather they interact with culture, and with genes, is wholly chaotic, random, manner. Their success depends as much on outside, environmental, conditions, as on internal ones. Dr. Susan Blackmore describes this random fecundity of memes in relation to religion. Saying, “These religious memes did not set out with an intention to succeed. They were just behaviors, ideas and stories that were copied from one person to another in the long history of human attempts to understand the world.” Therefore, in a very real sense, the human brain can be viewed as an idea factory, a memetic computing machine.

A meme’s success is determined by how far it goes, how long it lives in the collective conscious (and unconscious). Some – most, in fact – die right away, but every so often an idea comes along that spreads like wildfire, it leaps from brain to brain igniting new ideas, and in turn changing the way humans perceive the universe. Memes create culture, and language is how those memes are communicated and shared. However, it all begins in the mind as random (seemingly) thoughts. So what we have is a bilateral informational relationship and our brain acts as both receiver and transmitter. It takes information (memes) in, adopts the ones that, for a variety of reasons, work, it interprets them, or is inspired by them, and it spits out new ones which other brains take in and the same process happens. This process happens millions of times a day in each of our brains. We are computers constantly calculating the chaos of the cultural memeplex.

In the context of the modern media-torrent, the Infosphere we are enveloped by, memes propagate more and more in a horizontal fashion - not from parent to child, or elder to younger, but person to person, or Peer-to-Peer. Information spreads out from its source in an exponential tangent and can reach the opposite side of the globe as quickly as one person can turn and speak to another beside them. Susan Blackmore, takes this into consideration, she displays an implicit understanding of how the “digital age” will affect the exchange of memes, saying; “The more ways there are for memes to spread, and the faster they can go, the less they are constrained by the needs of genes.”

However, one would be remiss is they left this discussion floundering here, a philosophical orphan, as it were, on the doorstep of metaphysics. There’s an almost quantum, spooky attraction, in the way memes and genes are said to be working together. Most of the modern thinkers - being Scientific Materialists - allow no room for mysterious metaphysical entanglements. For them there is only physiology, hardware and software running its programmed course. However, one (such as myself) is compelled to imagine the most interesting aspect of memetics lies directly where it intersects that mystery of the human soul. Of course, you know what they say about your soul, and standing at the crossroads? I can understand the Scientific Materialist's reticence to allow their scholarship to enter too far into the realms of baseless speculation. I, however, think that may well be the most interesting road to take in this discussion. If human beings are to be viewed as genetic hardware running memetic (cultural) software, then the question lingers: who’s the network engineer?



Blackmore's book - The Meme Machine - http://www.amazon.com/Meme-Machine-Susan-Blackmore/dp/019286212X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239286043&sr=8-1
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Gnomon
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PostSubject: Re: We Are Computers   Thu Apr 09, 2009 12:23 pm

Quote :

However, one would be remiss is they left this discussion floundering here, a philosophical orphan, as it were, on the doorstep of metaphysics. There’s an almost quantum, spooky attraction, in the way memes and genes are said to be working together. Most of the modern thinkers - being Scientific Materialists - allow no room for mysterious metaphysical entanglements.

I want my mama---or my meme---whichever left me here on the threshold of the metaphysical haunted house! Sad

You might be interested in the book by Robert Aunger, The Electric Meme. The author is trying to answer some of the metaphysical criticism of meme theory by establishing the link between matter and mind. He proposes that memes take physical form as something similar to electric energy. That conclusion is very similar to my Enformationism theory, except that he stops short of embracing metaphysics as an essential component of reality.

Here's a quote that resonated with my own theory :
“Any complete description of the universe must include information. . . Nothing in physics makes sense except in the light of information.”
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Aaron
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PostSubject: Re: We Are Computers   Thu Apr 09, 2009 1:43 pm

Uriah wrote:
(Constantly Calculating The Chaos Of The Cultural Memeplex)


People often use the term "human nature" to denote that in us which is universal, immutable. However, we have two natures. On the one hand we are biological organisms ruled by our physiology and genetic blueprint, and on the other we are individuals enculturized into a given belief system and culture. It's the old "Nature vs Nurture" debate, though realize there really is no VS. about it at all - who and what we are is determined by both our mothers: Mother Nature, and Mother Culture. And that is natural. The human being, as comprised by our first and second natures, is very similar to a computer. The genetic nature of man can easily be likened to a computer’s hardware profile (its motherboard, memory, processing speed, etc…) and our cultural (memetic) nature can then be likened to the software that computer is running. The software is very much dependant upon the hardware, but it is much more dynamic, and is the means by which the hardware works at all. Taking that idea further it is the memetic software that drives the genetic hardware. The very basic building block of that cultural program code is the meme. A meme is basically any idea that takes root in culture, in the collective conscious (or unconscious) and then spreads. The meme operates in terms that are very biological in nature. Transmitting itself, and replicating, from brain to brain – host to host – in much the same fashion that virus does. As well, memes and genes are similar in that they, like the computer example above, dictate who we are, and how we generally perceive the world around us, and our place in it.

This is what Wilber is getting at with his "Four Quadrant" model...



The quadrants interact with each other in a dialectical (or quadralectical) fashion and help to shape and form one another. Yin/yang is a good analogy.

And while we are on the topic of memes, there is a related concept known as "Value Memes" or vMemes. Here's Professor Chris Cowan's description of vMemes...
Quote :
English biologist Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene and many other works, proposed the idea of "memes”—self-replicating packages of information that propagate themselves across the ecologies of mind in a pattern of reproduction similar to viruses. The parallel structure in biology is the gene. In chaos theory, it is the fractal.

As Dawkins conceives of them, memes reproduce themselves; they interact with their surroundings and adapt to them; they mutate; they persist; and they defend themselves against each other. Memes evolve to fill the empty niches in their local environments, which are, in this case, the surrounding belief systems and cultures of their natural hosts, namely, us.

Memes are transmitted in conversation, via the mass media, in literature, religion and politics. They take the form of simple concepts and complicated social movements. The Internet is a meme transmitter on a grand scale; the entertainment industry is another.

Intriguing as they are, memes are subject to a still deeper set of organizing principles which attract and repel them. Memes float in the flow of evolving human consciousness—and there’s a broader pattern to the currents and eddies in this stream of conceptions and ideas. One tool for mapping that pattern is Spiral Dynamics. In the book, Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change, the authors, Chris Cowan and Don Beck, coined the term vMEME to help make sense of the migration of memes and their cultural impact.

The vMEME concept is an effort to show the connection between the ideas carried in memes and the underlying value systems (thus, the v), thinking structures, worldviews, coping strategies, or Gravesian levels of psychological existence. Cowan and Beck created the term because the then-popular label, "value system," is so easily confused with values as contents—the beliefs and ethical frames that set priorities and express moralities. Values are formed and shaped by the thinking in underlying value systems (valuing systems is better). vMeme was an effort to bypass that confusion.

The systems in Spiral Dynamics can be thought of as vMEMEs—value-system or meme attractors—that frame life priorities, worldviews and vistas, and form the context for the individual memes that arise and circulate within them. These awakening vMEMEs establish the shape of deep mindsets and worldviews to which memes attach, or from which they are repelled. They are the scaffolding on which the constructs of the mind are built, the Velcro®-like hooks to which the loops of memes attach and bond. We stand on our platforms of vMEMEs to observe the world and report the "reality" as we see it. Advertisers shoot memes at us, hoping they will be sticky and hold our attention.

An understanding of the deep vMEMEs helps explain why some memes that arise "take" and others drift into oblivion. A meme that does not fit the active vMEME is often ignored, sometimes fought like an invader. When a meme does fit the active vMEME, it becomes part of the memetic package and endures. It can even influence the milieu enough to cause a shift in the underlying vMEME as part of the spiral process to more complex and elaborated conceptions of being. The meme’s lifespan is a function of its own power and the forces at work in the vMEME.

At this level, Spiral Dynamics offers the memetic discussion something really quite new to think about. Just note that memes and vMEMEs are not at all the same thing, though many people seem unable to differentiate the two constructs, a confusion which diminishes both. Indeed, some of the ideas and terminology from SD theory such as the color code have been turned into memes, themselves.
http://www.spiraldynamics.org/aboutsd_memetics.htm

Uriah wrote:
If human beings are to be viewed as genetic hardware running memetic (cultural) software, then the question lingers: who’s the network engineer?
Perhaps the hardware and software are a part of the "engineer"?

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Gnomon
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PostSubject: Re: We Are Computers   Fri Apr 10, 2009 12:54 pm

Quote :
These awakening vMEMEs establish the shape of deep mindsets and worldviews to which memes attach, or from which they are repelled. They are the scaffolding on which the constructs of the mind are built, the Velcro®-like hooks to which the loops of memes attach and bond.

I like that analogy.
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Uriah



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PostSubject: Re: We Are Computers   Sat Apr 11, 2009 11:35 am

Aaron wrote:
Uriah wrote:
(Constantly Calculating The Chaos Of The Cultural Memeplex)


People often use the term "human nature" to denote that in us which is universal, immutable. However, we have two natures. On the one hand we are biological organisms ruled by our physiology and genetic blueprint, and on the other we are individuals enculturized into a given belief system and culture. It's the old "Nature vs Nurture" debate, though realize there really is no VS. about it at all - who and what we are is determined by both our mothers: Mother Nature, and Mother Culture. And that is natural. The human being, as comprised by our first and second natures, is very similar to a computer. The genetic nature of man can easily be likened to a computer’s hardware profile (its motherboard, memory, processing speed, etc…) and our cultural (memetic) nature can then be likened to the software that computer is running. The software is very much dependant upon the hardware, but it is much more dynamic, and is the means by which the hardware works at all. Taking that idea further it is the memetic software that drives the genetic hardware. The very basic building block of that cultural program code is the meme. A meme is basically any idea that takes root in culture, in the collective conscious (or unconscious) and then spreads. The meme operates in terms that are very biological in nature. Transmitting itself, and replicating, from brain to brain – host to host – in much the same fashion that virus does. As well, memes and genes are similar in that they, like the computer example above, dictate who we are, and how we generally perceive the world around us, and our place in it.

This is what Wilber is getting at with his "Four Quadrant" model...



The quadrants interact with each other in a dialectical (or quadralectical) fashion and help to shape and form one another. Yin/yang is a good analogy.

And while we are on the topic of memes, there is a related concept known as "Value Memes" or vMemes. Here's Professor Chris Cowan's description of vMemes...
Quote :
English biologist Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene and many other works, proposed the idea of "memes”—self-replicating packages of information that propagate themselves across the ecologies of mind in a pattern of reproduction similar to viruses. The parallel structure in biology is the gene. In chaos theory, it is the fractal.

As Dawkins conceives of them, memes reproduce themselves; they interact with their surroundings and adapt to them; they mutate; they persist; and they defend themselves against each other. Memes evolve to fill the empty niches in their local environments, which are, in this case, the surrounding belief systems and cultures of their natural hosts, namely, us.

Memes are transmitted in conversation, via the mass media, in literature, religion and politics. They take the form of simple concepts and complicated social movements. The Internet is a meme transmitter on a grand scale; the entertainment industry is another.

Intriguing as they are, memes are subject to a still deeper set of organizing principles which attract and repel them. Memes float in the flow of evolving human consciousness—and there’s a broader pattern to the currents and eddies in this stream of conceptions and ideas. One tool for mapping that pattern is Spiral Dynamics. In the book, Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change, the authors, Chris Cowan and Don Beck, coined the term vMEME to help make sense of the migration of memes and their cultural impact.

The vMEME concept is an effort to show the connection between the ideas carried in memes and the underlying value systems (thus, the v), thinking structures, worldviews, coping strategies, or Gravesian levels of psychological existence. Cowan and Beck created the term because the then-popular label, "value system," is so easily confused with values as contents—the beliefs and ethical frames that set priorities and express moralities. Values are formed and shaped by the thinking in underlying value systems (valuing systems is better). vMeme was an effort to bypass that confusion.

The systems in Spiral Dynamics can be thought of as vMEMEs—value-system or meme attractors—that frame life priorities, worldviews and vistas, and form the context for the individual memes that arise and circulate within them. These awakening vMEMEs establish the shape of deep mindsets and worldviews to which memes attach, or from which they are repelled. They are the scaffolding on which the constructs of the mind are built, the Velcro®-like hooks to which the loops of memes attach and bond. We stand on our platforms of vMEMEs to observe the world and report the "reality" as we see it. Advertisers shoot memes at us, hoping they will be sticky and hold our attention.

An understanding of the deep vMEMEs helps explain why some memes that arise "take" and others drift into oblivion. A meme that does not fit the active vMEME is often ignored, sometimes fought like an invader. When a meme does fit the active vMEME, it becomes part of the memetic package and endures. It can even influence the milieu enough to cause a shift in the underlying vMEME as part of the spiral process to more complex and elaborated conceptions of being. The meme’s lifespan is a function of its own power and the forces at work in the vMEME.

At this level, Spiral Dynamics offers the memetic discussion something really quite new to think about. Just note that memes and vMEMEs are not at all the same thing, though many people seem unable to differentiate the two constructs, a confusion which diminishes both. Indeed, some of the ideas and terminology from SD theory such as the color code have been turned into memes, themselves.
http://www.spiraldynamics.org/aboutsd_memetics.htm

Uriah wrote:
If human beings are to be viewed as genetic hardware running memetic (cultural) software, then the question lingers: who’s the network engineer?
Perhaps the hardware and software are a part of the "engineer"?


That's extrememely interesting! lol

But seriously, Wilbur is one of those thinkers who has steadily grown on me. When I first purchased one of his books I thought it was a bunch of hooey, all those charts and graphs, and new names for old ideas, but as I've read more and more I've begun to see just how insightful he is.
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PostSubject: Re: We Are Computers   Sat Apr 11, 2009 2:39 pm

Yeah it took me about six months before the four quadrant chart made sense to me. When it finally did it was like a eureka moment.

I still think that some of Wilber's stuff is BS but I really like the four quadrant model.

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