Friday, 12 July 2013

Instincts meet memetics

Biology has the concept of an "instinct" - referring to heritable behavioural traits. The concept becomes broader once you have an understanding of memetics. After accounting for memes the idea of an "instinct" looks as though it breaks down into three concepts:

  • Instinct - heritable behavioural trait;
    • Genetic instinct - primarily genetically-encoded behavioural trait;
    • Memetic instinct - primarily memetically-encoded behavioural trait.
As you can see, I have proposed names for these concepts. You could possibly call them "genestinct" and "memestinct" for short.

As an example of a memetic instinct, consider the common propensity of cell phones to make beeping noises when their buttons are pressed.

Note that humans don't have memetic instincts. An instinct is something you are born with - and newborn humans have no memes.

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