Culture and psychological mechanisms

Henry Plotkin

in Darwinizing Culture

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780192632449
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191670473 | DOI:
Culture and psychological mechanisms

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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

Chapter.  5239 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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