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Øyvind Vada: Making Memetics a science

A part of the Project: Memetic Governance

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Øyvind Vada: Making Memetics a science

  1. 1. Making Memetics a Science Øyvind Vada [email_address] ECCO Seminar, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) April 2008
  2. 2. Disposition <ul><li>Ontology, Epistemology, Methodology </li></ul><ul><li>The Memetics Field </li></ul><ul><li>What is a Meme ? </li></ul><ul><li>A Research Programme </li></ul><ul><li>The problem with Memetics </li></ul><ul><li>The call for action solving the problems </li></ul><ul><li>Earlier answers to the calls </li></ul><ul><li>My answer </li></ul><ul><li>An integrative definition of memes </li></ul><ul><li>Practical implications </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Ontology, </li></ul><ul><li>Epistemology </li></ul><ul><li>and Methodology </li></ul>
  4. 4. Ontology <ul><li>Ontology is the definition of fundamental categories of reality and existence. </li></ul><ul><li>“ This is !“ </li></ul><ul><li>Domain ontology as distinct from formal ontology is related to focus of study. </li></ul><ul><li>Where formal ontology inquiry is to say something general about reality, a domain ontology says something specific about a specific area of reality. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Epistemology <ul><li>Epistemology defines how we can know and reason that reality. </li></ul><ul><li>As for for ontology every research field as a domain has its own epistemology </li></ul><ul><li>“ How do we make sense of reality?” </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Yin and Yang of ontology and epistemology <ul><li>There cannot be an epistemology without an ontology </li></ul><ul><li>AND </li></ul><ul><li>There cannot be an ontology without an epistemology </li></ul>
  7. 7. Methodology <ul><li>The methodologies of different research fields have followed from ontology and epistemology as separate systems of investigative techniques within their focus of study. </li></ul><ul><li>The psychologist and the sociologist traditionally apply different procedures for accomplishing and approaching the phenomena they focus on. </li></ul><ul><li>They use different scientific methods studying different domains with different epistemology and ontology. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>The Memetics Field </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Memetics Field <ul><li>Formal ontological statement and definition of the world in Memetics: </li></ul><ul><li>Reality is memes ! </li></ul><ul><li>Epistemological question in Memetics: </li></ul><ul><li>How do we make sense of memes ? </li></ul><ul><li>Methodological question that follows: </li></ul><ul><li>What investigative techniques and procedures </li></ul><ul><li>can be applied for approaching memes ? </li></ul>
  10. 10. What is a Meme ? <ul><li>The first original definition: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Die Mneme” (Semon, 1904) </li></ul><ul><li>“ ...units for cultural transmission of experiences” </li></ul><ul><li>The second: </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Life of the White Ant” (Maeterlinck, 1927) </li></ul><ul><li>“ ... engrammata upon the individual mneme” </li></ul><ul><li>engrammata = a memory trace </li></ul><ul><li>The third: </li></ul><ul><li>“ unit of cultural inheritance...naturally selected </li></ul><ul><li>by virtue of its “phenotypic” consequences on its </li></ul><ul><li>own replication and survival”. (Dawkins, 1976) </li></ul>
  11. 11. The internalists: Memes are manifested in the cognitive brain <ul><li> information pattern, held in an individual's memory, </li></ul><ul><li>which is capable of being copied to another individual's memory </li></ul><ul><li>(Heylighen, 1998). </li></ul><ul><li>....a memory item, or portion of an organism's neurally-stored </li></ul><ul><li>information, identified using the abstraction system of the observer, </li></ul><ul><li>whose instantiation depended critically on causation by prior </li></ul><ul><li>instantiation of the same memory item in one or more other organisms </li></ul><ul><li>nervous system (Lynch,1998). </li></ul>
  12. 12. The externalists Memes are observable cultural artefacts and behaviours <ul><li>“ .....outside the occurrence of the event, the practice of behaviour or the life time of the artefact , the meme have no existence” ( Gatherer,1999) </li></ul><ul><li>“ ....memes are out there in the physical &quot;pool&quot; of the environment” (Benzon, 1996) </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>“ No one knows what a meme is “(Augner, 2002) </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>A Research Programme </li></ul>
  15. 15. A Research Programme <ul><li>Imre Lakatos (1970) synthesises Karl Popper's strong falsificationism and Thomas Kuhn's paradigmatic approach, by introducing the term Research Programme (RP) . </li></ul><ul><li>A RP is according to Lakatos circling around an epistemological and ontological “hard core” (an attractor). </li></ul><ul><li>Instead of working with falsifications of hypothesis or total neglect of one paradigm to another, Lakatos suggested we should ask whether one RP is better than another depending on the purpose of the research . </li></ul><ul><li>“ Problem shifts” within a RP makes it sustainable without changing the paradigm. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Distinctions of Research Programmes <ul><li>A degenerative research program: </li></ul><ul><li>lack of growth </li></ul><ul><li>growth of the protective belt of auxiliary hypotheses that does not lead to novel facts </li></ul><ul><li>A progressive research programme: </li></ul><ul><li>growth </li></ul><ul><li>discovery of stunning novel facts </li></ul><ul><li>development of new experimental techniques </li></ul><ul><li>more precise predictions </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>The problem with Memetics </li></ul>
  18. 18. The problem with Memetics <ul><li>Memetics is a degenerative research programme. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Memetics ambition being a formal ontology hence with a “catch all” epistemology, but without a well proved methodology for empirical research has created lack of growth. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ No one know what a meme is”. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The ontological units of analysis is missing. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The epistemological either/or discussion between externalists and internalists is hypothetical and counter productive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The term “meme” it is never operationally defined so it can be applied in empirical research. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ If you do not know what you are looking for, you cannot find it.” </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>The call for action </li></ul>
  20. 20. The call for action <ul><li>A selection: </li></ul><ul><li>Edmonds (2002), Chielens & Heylighen (2005) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the theoretical statements of Memetics is too vague to be empirically falsified/verified. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Gil-White (2002) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Memetics suffers from conceptual confusion and not enough empirical work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Augner (2000) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How does genotype/phenotype distictions work for memes ? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Follow the the progress of evolutionalry cultural studies more generally (anthropology) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The clock is ticking </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>The answers </li></ul>
  22. 22. The answers <ul><li>A selection: </li></ul><ul><li>Chielens K. & Heylighen F. (2005) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Four ways memes adapt and four stages for memetic replication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Underline the importance of “a suitable memetic unit”, for Memetics to be tested empirically. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>storylines: the different elements of stories can be seen as individual memes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>digital virus hoaxes: email messages warning for non-existing viruses </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Dennet (2002) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Waits and hopes that the neuroscience is able to measure the electric difference between “cat” and “chair” when fired as diverse impulses in the human brain. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hull (2001) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Postpone definitional concerns and start the empirical research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop “different” memetic theories influenced by the domains they are tested </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make distinction between memes and memetic phenotypes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have a clear goal with the research </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>My answer </li></ul>
  24. 24. My answer <ul><li>Develop Memetics as a potentially Progressive Research Programme with a demand for: </li></ul><ul><li>a clearly distinctive domain ontology for mutual exclusive memes in each project, </li></ul><ul><li>a clear memetic epistemology and </li></ul><ul><li>a clear memetic methodology. </li></ul><ul><li>Memetics epistemology should make sense of diffusion and adaptation of ontologically predefined </li></ul><ul><li>memes and their influence on individual and collective states and behaviour. Each empirical researcher </li></ul><ul><li>should make ontological predefinitions of memes every time she/he goes into a new empirical social </li></ul><ul><li>system. Memetics epistemology should make sense of the correlation between individual and collective </li></ul><ul><li>thoughts, communications, decisions and actions applied in clearly defined empirical social </li></ul><ul><li>systems. There is a need for a integrative definition of memes that repeal the front between the </li></ul><ul><li>externalists and internalists. </li></ul>
  25. 25. My answer <ul><li>A separate and distinctive memetic investigating technique should be developed based </li></ul><ul><li>on Chielens K. & Heylighen F. (2005) work and enriched with a requirement of a predefined </li></ul><ul><li>meme ontology in research projects. </li></ul><ul><li>Methodological reductionism and epistemological holism can be unified. Both physical </li></ul><ul><li>and metaphysical units of analysis need to be predefined in order to be analyzed. Implicit </li></ul><ul><li>in defining the units of analysis lies a reductionism. To find the units systemic interaction </li></ul><ul><li>with its social system is research. The axiomatic presupposition that memes influence </li></ul><ul><li>the complex wholes they are or become a part of, is a holistic perspective. </li></ul>
  26. 26. My answer <ul><li>Memetics should be enriched with perspectives from other Research </li></ul><ul><li>Programmes for instance : </li></ul><ul><li>Pragmatism </li></ul><ul><li>Universal Evolution </li></ul><ul><li>Complex Systems Theory </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive Science </li></ul>
  27. 27. <ul><li>An integrative definition </li></ul>
  28. 28. <ul><li>Memes are </li></ul><ul><li>sustainable information units </li></ul><ul><li>that influence and form </li></ul><ul><li>individual and collective systems </li></ul><ul><li>and </li></ul><ul><li>spread successfully within them. </li></ul><ul><li>Memes needs to be ontologically predefined </li></ul><ul><li>as mutually exclusive units of analysis to be found. </li></ul>
  29. 29. <ul><li>A practical application of memes in Memetor ( </li></ul>
  30. 30. Memes as forms applied in Memetor <ul><li>Ontologically Predefined </li></ul><ul><li>Tools and Cognitive Templates </li></ul><ul><li>that </li></ul><ul><li>Form and Process </li></ul><ul><li>Subjective </li></ul><ul><li>Thoughts, Communications, Decisions and Actions </li></ul>
  31. 31. Ontological Memetor Memes Distinctions, Attributes and Criteria <ul><li>Individually and collectively applicable and relevant in all social systems and within different time frames </li></ul><ul><li>Connective, Complementary and Reinforcing </li></ul><ul><li>Generic, Replicable and Evolving </li></ul>
  32. 32. <ul><li>Thank you so much :-) </li></ul>