The Selfish Meme: A Critical Reassessment

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Cambridge University Press, 2005 - Psychology - 231 pages
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Culture is a unique and fascinating aspect of the human species. How did it emerge and how does it develop? Richard Dawkins has suggested that culture evolves and that memes are the cultural replicators, subject to variation and selection in the same way as genes function in the biological world. In this sense human culture is the product of a mindless evolutionary algorithm. Does this imply that we are mere meme machines and that the conscious self is an illusion? Kate Distin extends and strengthens Dawkins's theory and presents a fully developed and workable concept of cultural DNA. She argues that culture's development can be seen both as the result of memetic evolution and as the product of human creativity. Memetic evolution is therefore compatible with the view of humans as conscious and intelligent.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
The Meme Hypothesis
6
Cultural DNA
18
The Replication of Complex Culture
39
Variation
48
Selection
57
The Story So Far
68
The Human Mind Meme Complex with a Virus?
72
Memetic DNA
142
Memes and the Mind
168
Science Religion and Society What Can Memes Tell Us?
185
Conclusions
197
Acknowledgements
209
Notes
211
Bibliography
217
Index
225

The Memes Eye View
92
Early Cultural Evolution
116

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