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Darwinizing CultureThe Status of Memetics as a Science$
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Robert Aunger

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780192632449

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780192632449.001.0001

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Culture and psychological mechanisms

Culture and psychological mechanisms

(p.68) (p.69) Chapter 4 Culture and psychological mechanisms
Darwinizing Culture

Henry Plotkin

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues against memetics as a science that decreases culture to biology. In particular, it briefly refutes the charge of reductionism, and then attempts to save memetics from the second criticism – simple-mindedness – which is justifiably invoked against memetics of a particular kind. This is handled by appealing to psychological mechanisms as the basis for a pluralistic approach to the concept of memes. There are many different forms of knowledge and belief. Two kinds of memes – ‘surface-level’ and ‘deep-level’ – are also explained. The beliefs of universal Darwinism, replicators, and interactors as the basic concepts of memetics may substantially establish a productive approach to the understanding of culture; even more importantly, it might offer one of the conceptual bridges between the biological and social sciences.

Keywords:   memetics, surface-level memes, deep-level memes, culture, biology, psychological mechanisms

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