Kevin Aylward B.Sc.
It has been suggested by 1Susan Blackmore's that language has evolved as a mechanism to propagate memes. This was brought to this authors attention, and it is of course, a trivial deduction from general replicator theory, although with a qualification.
Language, is embodied in the human brain, that is it must be a trait of a Replicator. It must therefore act under the rules derived for general traits of replicators, that is, to maximize itself, in this case via, maximizing the numbers of its Replicator.
It has been held that emotion traits utilize moral traits for their instructions in an effort to maximize the numbers of their human Intelligent Replicator. It has also been held that the ability to copy other useful traits aids in the Replicators replication rate. It is a matter of simple observation that language is a method that is used to program the traits residing in the Intelligent Replicator. Therefore, it follows that:
the fundamental purpose of language is as a method to program the traits of a Replicator such that it maximizes its numbers.
Specifically, language from the environment is what programs the moral traits that drive emotive response that drive behavior that interacts back with the environment.
This means, as it does for any other traits, that there is an evolutionary drive, instigated as meme traits, to the development of language. Thus, this supports the view by 1Dr. Susan Blackmore, that meme traits are significantly responsible for language. However, it should be noted that the fundamental instigator, in the view presented here, is that language is providing the instructions that program the human Replicator to maximize its numbers, via a gene-meme interaction.
Cleary, language takes up physical resources, by increasing brain size that could otherwise be be utilized in other methods to increase Replicator numbers. Thus if the incremental evolution of language was net detrimental to Replicator numbers, it would be weeded out by evolution. It is held therefore that each incremental addition to language resulted in an incremental advantage to its gene based Replicator. That is, language did not evolve for its own meme Replication purposes, but for the purposes of maximizing Replicator numbers.
For example, Blackmore argues that talking should be looked at from the perspective of what advantage talking provides to its memes. This is fundamentally flawed, as unlike genes, advantage to memes does not necessarily result in an advantage to the machine that replicates them. As already demonstrated, it is only the Replicant machine that can replicate memes, so any advantage must be reflected back to that machine. This argument can only work for genes as genes are part of a self replicating machine. Memes simply do not replicate in that manner, so the argument is inherently false for memes. Arguably, any spurious talking is occupying time that could otherwise be utilized for maximizing Replicator numbers, thus the conclusion is that talking is still fundamentally about gaining and distributing information that aids Replicator numbers.
As already noted, whenever discussing memes, one must always ask, in what way does the meme attempt to maximize the total number of its Replicators, not "in what way does the meme attempt to maximize itself". It can't. Memes are passive.
See also Replicator Mathematics
1Dr. Susan Blackmore, "The Meme Machine", http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/.
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© Kevin Aylward 2003 - all rights reserved