Wednesday, April 19, 2006

What is a meme?

Wikipedia has an interesting article that explores the idea of memes as cultural analogs to viruses. In brief, a meme can be thought of as a sort of a self-propagating unit of cultural evolution, resembling the physical gene, that is passed from one mind to another either verbally or by action. Examples of memes are thoughts, theories, practices, habits, songs, dances, moods, and concepts such as race and god. Wikepedia article on Memes.

Columnist George Claassen incorporates the idea of memes in his discussion of religion as a virus. Apparently he received some very negative feedback on his thoughts about this issue. I expect that I will get some of the same if anyone ever reads my blog. Religion as a virus.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given the negative associations of the term 'virus' - as well as the implication that the whole of religion may share that negative association - its use in this manner is certainly likely to elicit less than aproving response. For my part, I would be skeptical of any such association (should that be implied). Typically I have found not so much religion, per se , to be problematic so much as human reaction to it. That is to say that humanity seems to want to take things beyond any intended borders. I suspect it is an alternate form of that same impulse the impels us to push past our current understanding. Essentially this impulse commpels folks to 'see how far [they] can take it' - and so they do. And it is not just religion (as such) with which they do this. In the last century the same exploration could be found in various -isims not associated with religion (e.g. communisim, facisim, nazi-ism etc.). Though not associated with religion, they did share the same human drive to push to extremes that we sometimes see expressed in religion. In fact, an interesting thought occurs to me: Were these adventures a reaction to the less adventurous religious environment of the times? Who knows ... - Publius

9:31 PM  

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