Sunday, 4 November 2012

Memes, 'temes' and other replicators

It is and established fact that the basic principles of biological inheritance are embedded inside our genes, determining the biological properties of every being's descendants. And ever since Richard Dawkins's 1976 book The Selfish Gene, scientists have been exploring the possibility that it is not the beings, but rather the genes themselves which replicate. This not only revolutionarized genetics - but has also started a new line of research which, by today has become relatively accepted on its own: memetics, the research of thought patterns acting as replicators.
Even some internet memes may qualify as scientific replicators.
Even some internet memes may qualify as scientific replicators.

So what is a replicator?

The tools of memetics and  the gene-centered view of evolutionary biology differ a lot from each other, as well as the beings they study - while biologists have the ability to study a physically present, self-copying and duplicating molecule sequence (the gene), memetists are yet to find such a physical object inside the human mind. Their common attribute is that they, replicate - that is, they can survive long enough, are capable of copying themselves with a small, but vital margin of error, and exist in a variety of forms. Based on such an universalist approach of self-replicating beings, everything which satisfies the criteria above can be considered a replicator. (Yes, even the head of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, as pictured above.)

The relative looseness of these definitions allows us to observe many phenomena in terms of replication - not only biology, but psychology(memetics), technology, and economics. In this video below, the British memetics writer Susan Blackmoore explores the possibility of technological replicators - the so-called "temes".

New economics

Yet there is even more to replicators. Not only technology can act - and be observed and studied - as a replicator, but as the prominent Hungarian mathematician and psychologist László Mérő argues, money as well. In tomorrow's post, we will explain and explore his conclusions about the function of money (precisely, capital) as a replicator - in his book The Evolution of Money, where he argues that genes,memes,mons(the replicators of capital),temes, and a whole new, yet unexplored range of phenomena can be thought of as replicators.

Join us tomorrow in our excursion to a brand new field of economics.

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