Wednesday, May 21, 2014
I’ve been studying the life of ideas — how ideas reside in objects, how they move into our minds and how they move from our minds into the physical worlds. Of course “they” do not move themselves. They are essentially information. We are the movers. But, once they are in our heads strange things can happen. Information in our minds can become ideas. We shift them around. We cut and splice and rearrange bits and pieces to form new or different ideas.
There has been some research about one peculiar notion dealing with ideas in a field referred to as memetics. This notion proposes that once in our minds, information programs the way that we think and do everything. Taken to a rational conclusion we might believe that we are programed entirely by the information we take into our minds — that free will or agency is pure fiction. This is in fact a form or extension of evolutionary biology theory.
The arguments for this are very convincing as they parallel everything we believe to be true in evolutionary biology. The foundational element in biology is the gene and in the world of human behavior it is the meme. Human beings are meme machines (Blackmore 1999). As a side note I believe that this notion has strong ties to the “One Dimensional-Man” theory posited by Herbert Marcuse.
If I were a strong believer in the notion that all truth and reality springs from scientific rationality then I would be completely on board with all of this. But, alas I am not that guy. Neither am I fully on whatever side might oppose these ideas. I think there is truth in theories of memetic evolution. But, I also have strong beliefs that we are each individual, eternal, spiritual beings. Shocking I know! But, pairing these beliefs with memetics means that while ideas do evolve via our minds and bodies they can only do so if we choose to use them. This is the very essence of what it means to be a designer.