Thursday, 5 January 2012


George van Driem says some interesting thigs in the paper Symbiosism, Symbiomism and the Leiden definition of the meme. He says some of them on video here.

One of the things that I liked was his proposal that we call the unit of imitation (as proposed by Blackmore) a "mime".

"Mime" is more closely linked etymologically to "mimic" and "mimicry".

It doesn't end with "-eme" the way most units do (e.g. Lexeme, Phoneme, Morpheme, Sememe, Seme, Grapheme) - but a unit of imitation is not that useful scientifically anyway - since it is much more important to have an umbrella category that covers all forms of culture. Since imitation is one component of social learning, mimetics is a subset of memetics.

Others have used the terms "mime" and "mimetics" for similar ideas - in particular see RenĂ© Girard’s "mimetic theory", and the ideas of Merlin Donald.

The terms "mime" and "mimetics" seem to be a suitable way of symbolically demoting the idea without completely discarding it.

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