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Ch. 9 - Battle of the Sexes 
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seespotrun2008 wrote:
I think that Robert's idea of "most fecund and long-lasting" is correct though. It seems like Dawkins is concerned with, not just that culture gets transmitted, but why. He gives the example of Auld Lang Syne. He talks about how people have held on to "for the sake of auld lang syne." This is not how it was written, however. It was written
"for auld lang syne". Dawkins asks what the "survival value" of this mistake was. Ultimately, this leads to asking what is the "survival value" of anything in our culture. Why do we hold on to certain things and not others? Dawkins asks the question about God, but we can also understand all of the ideas and values that make up patriarchy by asking that same question. Why do we hold onto certain values?

The 'why' is just what I find most lacking in this theory of memes. For me, memes beggar the question entirely. If an idea spreads, it must be because it is 'memetically' powerful, it is said. But why people have ended up expressing such ideas in the first place is the interesting and important part, and to explain this by simple 'spread' as with a virus is to me totally inadequate.

By the way, I don't know what to make of Dawkins example of 'Auld Lang Syne'. It must be a British phenomenon to add the words 'for the sake of' to the Robt. Burns song. I don't do this, and the two people I've asked don't either. So the practice spread in Britain but not, I'm guessing, in America. What is the reason? I have no idea, really, but why do regional and national differences of any kind exist? To say that it's because of memes does not, again, seem offer much real information.

DWill wrote:
It's one of the cruelties of life that women have to face this crisis of losing the attractiveness they had in the eyes of us shallow, visually-dominated men.

seespotrun wrote:
Actually, this may not be entirely true. There were some scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine who found that women actually respond very quickly to erotic images.


Well, thanks for putting in a good word (sort of) for my gender!



Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:31 pm
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The 'why' is just what I find most lacking in this theory of memes. For me, memes beggar the question entirely. If an idea spreads, it must be because it is 'memetically' powerful, it is said. But why people have ended up expressing such ideas in the first place is the interesting and important part, and to explain this by simple 'spread' as with a virus is to me totally inadequate.


I don't think that Dawkins thinks that it is simple either. Ideas, which he thinks of as memes, move from brain to brain but that does not mean everything sticks. I am not really sure where philosophy begins and science ends with memes though. I do not really have a problem with that, though. I think the idea of memes is useful for dissecting different cultural norms and trying to understand where they come from. It may be attractive to me, though, because it seems very feminist so I can relate to it. In the 30th anniversary edition that I have Dawkin’s has a footnote that a fellow scientist was trying to insult his theory by calling it philosophical. I do not totally understand why that is an insult.

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Well, thanks for putting in a good word (sort of) for my gender!


Sure. But more than just putting in a good word for men, it calls into question a value we cling to in our society. What would it do to the idea that women have to be beautiful if all human beings were stimulated visually by erotic imagery? Wow, women may be able to focus on something besides being beautiful!



Sun Oct 11, 2009 2:37 pm
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