New wine and skin.
What is the nature of Meme? Is this just a fancy way to talk about what we used to call Ideas? Different than this older category, memes are never purely immaterial. Ideas are meant to be able to exist utterly separate from bodies. They exist through the laws of logic and grammar I suppose. But what animates them if they are not moving along the courses of their meaning? (Maybe poets should not do philosophy.) Memes, on the other hand, exist in our cells. Therefore they are corporeal. At least they depend on bodies to be carried and find expression. Yet, they are independent of particular bodies in that they convey, or perhaps manifest themselves in, meaning. Memes carry coherent information which each person in a group of people with common memetic formation shares in: a people are defined by their common genes and memes. More so, memes seem to possess will, they intend to be held, even believed at times. This will to power may or may not require consciousness on the part of the meme, as is the case with many animated entities in our world; even the aggressive will of cancer is unconscious, at least it seems dubious to ascribe Cartesian person-hood to a tumor.
The traditional Nature<>Nurture dialectic is replaced, then, by the Gene<>Meme dialectic. It is no longer, “How much is innate and how much is learned?” But rather how much is genetic and how much memetic? For the philosophical materialist’s we are bio-mechanical fantasy machines. In our traditional language we are inspirited bodies. The ideas we hold, the spirits we are possessed by and the memes that inform our actions and verbal responses, are three attempts to explain the phenomenon of conscious life. The error often of the Atheist is not first that he denies the existence of God, but that he denies ‘the metaphysical’ where God exists existence. Once you reject metaphysics you must reject God and once you accept metaphysics, God is there. The Atheist either merely intuits this, or may be fully conscious, but their epistemology is governed by this prejudice. For some it manifests from a need to rid themselves and the whole world of God. For others it is the result of their materialism. These reject metaphysics as a relic of religion, of the fore-enlightenment world. But both have thrown the bathwater out with the baby; they destroyed metaphysics to destroy God. Oh sure they dip into it as needed, it is unavoidable, but they limit it to logic and maths and prefer to stay in the cold factual world of nothing more than matter bumping into itself for no reason whatsoever. This is supposed to be infinitely preferable to living in a world with a virile metaphysics and God.
You shall know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.
So what does all this mean? We seem to organize ourselves our convictions and subsequent verbal and physical responses based on what we think is true.Memes seem to be a kind of logical ‘truth’gate. This is the same as saying they form our assumptions, in everyday speech. But why do we hold assumptions? Why do we value truth so highly? I will make no claim that this is a general disposition of humans, only that it is a condition of the White tribes, and in a particularly convicted way. I do not mean that other peoples don’t put value on truth, just not in the same way. More importantly,not in a way that I can fully comprehend. Other tribes put more emphasis on honour, or swagger, or cunning it seems to us. This is not a judgement, just an acknowledgement of important differences.
There are more than a few interesting implications in this. As well as more than a few questions. How much of this ‘truth sensitivity’ is genetic? That is, how much of it develops as a capacity of our cells independent of experience? There seems to be little truth content that we get from the metamorphosis of our genetic code into flesh. Our intuition is that truth assessment must be learned. The things we believe are certainly learned. It may be though, and this is a question to be answered by material science, that we have an innate capacity to learn to value truth, or at least to value things as true. But this later is an emotional sense of truth not a logical or empirical one. Conviction more than truth. And our convictions can be both erroneous and harmful, that is, run counter to nature; the Tao if you will. It is reasonable to accept an innate ability to assign truth value to our perceptions. It could be that we also pick up truth assessing memes in early childhood, and those who miss these may be those who express significant social pathology. If in our cells, this truth valuing must be a very basic capacity for with it we are capable of holding an infinite variety of things as true.
Meme be Bro
We are faced with a lot of questions about truth and logic and grammar, and how they relate to memes within a human body at this juncture. This will take a good deal more time to work through than a blog post can hold. I also have enormous holes in my knowledge, reading and research to start to fill. First stop has been revisiting Leibniz’s Monadology. There is a decent reading of it at LibrVox. This archive is one of the finest things Liberals have ever built.