Presentation on theme: "Memes Richard Dawkins. Genes Evolution theory in a nutshell: – We are each a constellation of traits which reflects the set of genes we inherit from our."— Presentation transcript:
Memes Richard Dawkins
Genes Evolution theory in a nutshell: – We are each a constellation of traits which reflects the set of genes we inherit from our parents – Traits (and the genes that underlie them) impart advantages and disadvantages – Genes are thus subject to “selection pressures” or “selective retention” which increase or decrease their prevalence in a “gene pool” – Random variation introduces novel genes and their associated traits into the gene pool
Genes Genes are selfish replicators – They blindly “try” to make copies of themselves (try in the sense that most organisms “try” to pass along our genes) – Are our genetic traits the only aspects of ourselves that we pass along?
Memes Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote The droghte of March hath perced to the roote And bathed every veyne in swich licour, Of which vertu engendred is the flour; Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
Memes Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote The droghte of March hath perced to the roote And bathed every veyne in swich licour, Of which vertu engendred is the flour; Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales Can you read this? Could your parents or grandparents? Could their grandparents? What happened? Your genes are different. Does that account for our different language? If not, what does?
Memes Language is an example of an aspect of human culture that evolves Dawkins’ thesis is that this evolution process can be considered in the same light as the evolution of genetic traits Memes are the heritable units of culture
Memes What are some examples of memes?
Memes How do memes replicate?
Memes How do memes die?
Memes Some memes stay bundled together – They are mutually reinforcing – E.g. the fear of eternal damnation if you don’t believe in things like eternal damnation… – And everything else that is bundled up in the meme complex of this particular religious doctrine
Memes Some memes cannot co-exist – E.g. they are incompatible or contradictory – E.g. they explicitly exclude other memes Notice that we never hold incompatible memes to be true even in cases in which there is little or no consensus
Memes Do memes and genes interact? – Consider that one’s parents are the primary source of one’s memes (at least early in life) – Consider memes about celibacy or birth control
Memes Perhaps this makes you uneasy about your own memes… – There’s nothing wrong with that! Try some other memes! See how they fit with your own. Ask a stranger to share memes with you.