Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Raymond Tallis - resources

Raymond Tallis is a critic of memes and "biologism". He thinks they are a symptom of "Darwinitis".

He wrote a book called Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis which ignorantly bashes memetics. Here's a video of Raymond in action:

The criticism of memes starts at 53:50. The whole thing is really too ridiculous to comment on. I'll just quote:

Dennett complains that Aping Mankind caricatures a controversial idea he develops: cultural memes. The Darwinesque concept originates in Dawkins's 1976 book, The Selfish Gene. Memes are analogous to genes, Dennett has said, "replicating units of culture" that spread from mind to mind like a virus. Religion, chess, songs, clothing, tolerance for free speech—all have been described as memes. Tallis considers it absurd to talk of a noun-phrase like "tolerance for free speech" as a discrete entity. But Dennett argues that Tallis's objections are based on "a simplistic idea of what one might mean by a unit." Memes aren't units? Well, in that spirit, says Dennett, organisms aren't units of biology, nor are species—they're too complex, with too much variation. "He's got to allow theory to talk about entities which are not simple building blocks," Dennett says.
The video has a Q&A here. Memes are discussed 19 minutes in.

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