New Book Against Memes

From Notre Dame philosophical reviews:

If rigorous argument were the basis for determining the acceptance or rejection of ideas, then Maria Kronfeldner’s Darwinian Creativity and Memetics should finally put to rest Richard Dawkins’ evolutionary theory of culture based on the notion of ‘memes’. Examining the analogy between genes and their role in evolution, as conceived by Dawkins, and the role of memes, Kronfeldner argues convincingly that the analogy does not hold. That is, even without criticizing Dawkins’ views on biological evolution and allowing that his version of neo-Darwinism is a valid model of scientific theory to emulate in the human sciences, Kronfeldner shows that the notion of memes does not stand up as a valid scientific concept to explain the evolution of culture. It is impossible to identify some bounded entities in or supporting human culture equivalent to genes (whether brain patterns, behavior patterns, symbolic artefacts or anything else) which replicate to generate variations which are differentially selected by processes not coupled with and so therefore are validly seen as causal influences on this replication process. That is, there is nothing in human culture equivalent to strings of DNA that replicate without this replication being influenced by the processes that determine the survival of the replicators. ‘Memes’ are descriptively inadequate, have no explanatory power and play no heuristic function. At most they might allow the language of evolution to be extended to the domain of culture.


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