Memetics

In previous posts, I discussed how biological inheritance has its genes (DNA). Richard Dawkins (1976) will argue that there is a cultural inheritance equivalent to genes that he calls memes. Memes are environmental extra-genetic inheritance (ENV). I appreciate the concept of memes because they are environmentally induced. Biological replicators are genes <–> memes are cultural replicators. Memes are cultural “genes” that spread in one’s culture through environmental socialization and a process of enculturation. Examples of memes are: language, family rituals, social rituals, eating preferences, cultural beliefs, cultural values, religious views, recognized holidays, cultural dress, cultural customs, cultural prohibitions, political views, cultural traditions, and surely prejudice (more to come in a future post). Memetics involves cultural viruses implanted, imprinted, and stamped into a culture’s population, and they are very hard to eradicate or change. Memes are not necessarily good or bad —> they just are. Cultures will fight for their memes. All of us fight for the memes that have become part of us. Cultures fight for memetic survival just as biological creatures we fight for genetic survival.

genes and memes