Wednesday, April 18, 2012

'meme theory' and Primate language use?, Is there a literature for this?

scottmacleod: Where does 'meme theory' (simply as 'replicating, cultural units,' for example, like a word, a novel, a summer dress) fit in "The Growth and Decay of Shared Knowledge" - - in this schema as emerging from Darwinian theory (Dawkins coined this term in his 1976 "The Selfish Gene")?

(In internet relay chat box ... ) Scott:

Oh, you're getting to Dawkins now

(in this Harvard talk ...

... thanks.


Dawkins uses the metaphor of a virus for meme, which, as memes, jump contagiously from brains to brains, partly by replication, I think.

How would meme study and theory work in higher primates that have learned sign languages ... e.g. mountain gorillas, bonobo chimpanzees, common chimpanzees, and with sign language, or other gestures? I wonder if there's an academic literature here, in any way.

kamo: scottmacleod:i don't understand

scottmacleod: The study of memes as 'cultural, replicating units' in higher primates which have learned sign language, for example, would reduce variables significantly in studying primate language learning, and especially experimentally.

scottmacleod: Higher primates' lack of larynxes (one evolutionary theory of human speech per Deacon), and thus speech (which humans have) - and which is one form of meme generation - might make fascinating even the study of survival rates among such higher primates possible (as far as these higher primates are from their troops, and their evolutionary environments), and a whole variety of other interesting questions vis-a-vis meme study.

See, too - in Wikipedia.

(The origins of language: an investigation of various theories - 2004 -, with no mention of Deacon's work).


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