Darwin-L Message Log 5:122 (January 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<5:122>From SMITGM@hawkins.clark.edu  Mon Jan 24 10:38:51 1994

To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: "Gerard Donnelly Smith"  <SMITGM@hawkins.clark.edu>
Organization: Clark College, Vancouver WA, USA
Date: 24 Jan 94 08:32:22 PST8PDT
Subject: Re: Systematics and Linguistics

For those interested in a thorough and plausible theory of cultrual
transmission, I suggest they take up mimesis.  Although Girard's
theory  (Platonic and Aristotelian mimesis as precedent)
postulates that violence within early huminoid society caused
the need for the first ritual scapegoat tranference to animals or
other cutlures, his exploration of cultural transmission (which has
been debated by both anthopologist and psychologist)
seems much more relevant to any discussion which wishes to create an
analogy between systematics and linguistics.

Jean-Michel Oughourlian asserts that "Without mimesis there can be
neither human intelligence nor cultural transmission.  Memesis is the
essential force of cultrual integration."

The essential difference between the memetic and the mimetic:
memetic theory suggests that cultural traits can be inherited,
whereas mimetic theory argues that they can not be inherited, but
must be learned.  Before we tie memetic theory to genetic theory, we
should rigourously decide which has more validity as a theory of
cultural transmission.  Though I am found of Jung's collective
unconsciousness, I must ultimately reject the theory because of it
also postulates that culture can be inherited.

In other words, difference is leanred, not inherited.  We note the
sexual difference because of instint, so gender distinctions are
inhereted; however, we so not inherit the sexism, racism and facism
associated with "differences" between people.  Rather, we teach our
children those differences. When we talk of culture, we must include
these, or what's the use of our discussion.

"If a wise man gives thee better counsel, give me mine again.  I
would know that a fool follows it, for a knave gives it."

Dr. Gerard Donnelly-Smith            e-mail: smitgm@hawkins.clark.edu
English Department, Clark College

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