Monday, 5 May 2014

A large critique of memetics

This 16-page critique of memetics comes from Vilém Uhlíř and Marco Stella - anthropologists from the Czeck republic. It was published in the Czeck journal, Anthropologie.


I don't have that many comments. This critique is pretty bad. Here's one painful excerpt:

For memetics, culture is not driven by the motives of humans, but by non-conscious "instincts" of its own particles, memes. No matter that the true Darwinian evolution has no agency and is essentially aimless. This passive fatalism with no space for human consciousness seems to stem from animated ultra-metaphors clumsily used to describe memes.

Here's how they present the modern rise of theories of cultural evolution:

It seems to us that we are facing an attempt to "exhume" or resuscitate memetics inside biosocial theories of culture, via a conscious strategy of avoiding the downgraded words "meme" and "memetics" (e.g., Distin 2011).


the fatal fault of memetics is that it is too dependent on Dawkinsian reduction.
From my perspective, this article is interesting not so much because it offers interesting critique of memetics, but rather because it clearly illustrates the swathes of nonsense that emanate from anthropology departments on this topic. These folk know enough to see that there is a turf war going on - but not enough to coherently defend their positions.

It's rather surreal to see the science I love twisted around for the purpose of these kind of "straw man" attack. I hope that nobody is stupid enough to get their information about memetics from sources like this.

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