Darwinizing Culture. The Status of Memetics as a Science. Edited by Robert Aunger. Cover. Darwinizing Culture. The Status of Memetics as a. Darwinizing culture: the status of memetics as a science pits leading intellectuals, (both supporters and opponents of meme theory), against eachother to battle it. Darwinizing culture: the status of memetics as a science pits leading intellectuals, , against each other to battle it out, in this, the first debate over ‘memes’. With a.

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Return to Book Page. Preview — Darwinizing Culture by Robert Aunger. The publication in of Susan Blackmore’s bestselling ‘The Meme Machine’ re-awakened the debate over the highly controversial field of memetics.

Robert Aunger (ed.), Darwinizing Culture: The Status of Memetics as a Science – PhilPapers

In the past few years, there has been an explosion of interest in ‘memes’. The one thing noticeably missing has been any kind of proper debate over the validity of a concept regarded by many as scientifically suspect.

This book The publication in of Susan Blackmore’s bestselling ‘The Meme Machine’ re-awakened the debate over the highly controversial field of memetics. This book pits leading intellectuals, both supporters and opponents of meme theoryagainst each other to battle it out, and state their case. With a forward by Daniel Dennett, and contributions form Dan Sperber, David Hll, Robert Boyd, Susan Blackmore, Henry Plotkin, and others, the result is a thrilling and challenging debate that will perhaps mark a turning point for the field, and for future research.

Superbly edited by Robert Aunger, this is a thought provoking book that will fascinate, stimulate, and occasionally perhaps infuriate a broad range of readers including psychologists, biologists, philosophers, linguists, and anthropologists.

Hardcoverpages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Qs ask other readers questions about Darwinizing Cultureplease sign up. Lists with This Book. Nov 22, Hakan Uzunlar rated it liked it Shelves: First of all, I have trouble understanding why nearly all the arguments in the book revolve around human social behaviour and how hard it is for memetics to account for it. My opinion is that this perspective misses the real power of memetics. Social behaviour is also present in animal species many of which do not exhibit signs of proto-culture and yes, it can be explained without much need for memetic theories.

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Darwinizing Culture: The Status of Memetics as a Science – Oxford Scholarship

So why, when it comes to human social behaviour and psychology, leave this all behind and expect memetics to account for everything on its own? It seems to me that the reactions of psychologists and anthropologists against memetics are based on a misunderstanding that memetics is here to sweep their theories on human nature away and start from scratch. The point I want to stress here is this: This is where we differ from animals on a very observable level and this, I submit, is the domain where memetics as a research program can produce its first fruits without too much hassle with other disciplines — thus, the domain where arguments about the validity of memetics should move towards.

Of course, the issue of what Aunger calls Mental Darwinism becomes important here: I propose that two things should encourage us to operate under the assumption that Blackmore is right, and embark on the project of analyzing cultural designs within the memetic framework: This simply is the essence of the memetic account of human creativity. But the project of explaining human design with memetics needs one big adjustment in the way people conceive of memes.

This is the second point that disturbs me in the discussions in general: These concepts may be straw men created by the early proponents of memetics like Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Geneand no wonder they are easily burned down by critics speaking in sarcastic tones.

This simplistic language, still adopted by some memeticists today, is turned against the memetic theory to condemn it as an oversimplification too funny to be true.

The genes constitute a recipe, not a blueprint.

Darwinizing Culture: The Status of Memetics as a Science

What makes us think that memes are much more simpler structures? Just like the biological organisms, cultural objects artefacts, theories, institutions, etc. In this perspective, the general relativity theory is a memetic construct, resulting from the interactions of maybe thousands of memes that we may not readily map one-to-one onto the properties that we perceive and talk about on a semantic level.

As Dennett reminds us on various occasions and topics, we must be prepared to, if not expect to, discover that darwinizign scientific theories are often counter-intuitive. Darwinizig intuitions are not a good basis for building or refuting claims about the nature of our minds and the memes, as they lead us to overrate our conscious teleological control over our creativity or to memetica in a semantic mapping between whole designs, ideas or theories and single memes.

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So it is my belief that memetics should — in the beginning, at least — shift its focus from human social behaviour towards human creativity and objects of culture, and do that with a more refined definition of meme to do justice to the complexity of the phenomena to be explained as well as to the memetic theory itself.

Hull manages to remain crystal clear on muddy waters of theoretical memetics with his bold arguments supported by very appropriate examples. Jun 06, Aldo Ojeda rated it liked it Shelves: Why yes, I do consider myself staus memeticist, ever since I was introduced to dawinizing via Dawkins-Dennett-Blackmore.

Alas, most of the essays conforming this book by authors from Why yes, I do consider myself a memeticist, ever since I was introduced to it via Dawkins-Dennett-Blackmore.

Only Maurice Bloch aw some interesting questions. Oct 25, Ahmed Abdelazim rated it liked it. Jun 19, Joseph rated it really liked it.

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