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Memes vs. Philosophy

Posted By: Randy GageJuly 14, 2010

We have a spirited discussion going on yesterday’s post about a prosperity philosophy.  Today I promised to explain the difference between a congruent philosophy and a meme complex.  So let’s get to it.

What is a meme anyway?

It is an idea that is also a replicator.  Think of it as something that causes people to think a certain way, believe a certain thing, or take a specific action.  It is a unit of cultural evolution.

A catchy jingle or slogan is a meme.  You hear it, you play it in your head, and then you “infect” other minds by sharing it.  “Just do it,” and “Where’s the beef?” are memes just as is the idea that rich people are evil.

In the past, you may have heard me reference a book by my friend Richard Brodie entitled, “Viruses of the Mind.”  The virus terminology is most appropriate.

The word meme was first discussed around 1976 in a book by Richard Dawkins entitled, “The Selfish Gene.”  He took the Greek root of “mimeme” and shortened it to meme, to be more suggestive of gene.

A meme complex is a condition of mutually supporting memes that form a belief system.  Religion is a meme complex.  Being Christian, Jewish or Muslim is not a philosophy; it is a belief system.

A philosophy is a system of values by which you live your life.  The key word in there is “system.”  More specifically, it is a system of thought, done by investigation of the nature, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods.

This requires a critical analysis of your fundamental assumptions or beliefs.  Now that kind of critical analysis is what we do often on this blog.  But this issue is going to require you to perform this critical thinking on your highest level yet.

So here’s your homework…

Re-read all of this past week’s blog posts.  Then, with what you know now, do some critical analysis of the questions I posed, on corporate greed vs. profit making, Jack Welch’s retirement package, allowing hate groups to assemble, and the other issues.

Remove the emotion, question your knee-jerk responses, and think about whether the things you believe are the result of your philosophy, or if they are meme complexes.  Then please share your findings with the group.

-RG

23 comments on “Memes vs. Philosophy”

  1. I guess my meme is like the Google guys, "Do no harm" and make and contribute as much as you can...
    Curious Randy, what do you think of Richard Dawkin's Selfish Gene and God Delusion???

  2. Cognitive dissonance means to hold two contradictory beliefs simultaneously and accept that both are true. George Orwell called it ‘doublethink’. Read 1984 again together with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. As insiders (members of the Fabian Society where the emblem is a wolf in sheep’s clothing - you couldn’t make it up!) they knew what was coming, and it’s here.

    A recent poll indicated that about half of American citizens feel that the government is a threat to their individual rights. That is a significant number and shows that people are finally beginning to question their insane leaders.

    With all of the blatant idiotic episodes by world leaders and statements made that are so obviously insincere, more and more people are realizing that they are being tricked and used and manipulated.

    Whether it's proving that Obama was born in Kenya, or that H1N1 virus is not dangerous, or that 911 was a staged inside job, people all over the world will soon join together to remove the yoke of totalitarianism and injustice that pervade our society.

    It may take one or two more heinous events to seal the deal, but, humanity is finally waking up and at least thinking out loud that hey, something smells rotten!

    Maybe you're ok with that it's raining oil in Florida, that the oxygen level is at a minimum for survival, that your food, water, health care and supplements is poison and that the only option for people is seemingly to jump on empty opportunities.

    I'm not.

    The powers that be don't want you to dig deep enough to see the crap you thought was the solution.

    The best slaves don't realize they are slaves, rich or poor.

    However, even the troops are waking up now - a must see:

    davidicke.com/articles/media-and-appearances/36265-even-the-troops-are-waking-up-a-fantastic-video

    When people are really pushed up against the wall, they finally start to do something.

    1. White...

      Great point!.During WWII, the top 1% of all income earners paid 90% of their income to finance the war and they also served. I am still waiting for the Bushes'Cheney's and Limbaughs's of this country to send a family member to either Iraq of Agnastinagn.
      While we the country went to war, the top 1% of all income earner got the tax breaks.
      The oil companies have a tuned of $36 billions in subsidies in the name of "Free Enterprise" and "Personal Responsability."
      A subsidy is a goverment handout for the corporations.

  3. More specifically, it is a system of thought, done by investigation of the nature, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods.

    Can you expand on based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods?
    The evidence is clear that the bankers stole money or bankrupted theirs out of greed and LACK OF OVERSIGHT. The logical conclusion is to created more regulation to avoid this mess again.
    Another example of using a a congruent political thought is a social democracy like Norway. Norway has oil but instead of a few corporations making all the money, the money is distributed through society through high taxation and there are millionaries in Norway and nobody is starving like Mexico where the richest person in the world lives.

    1. Norway and Mexico are 2 different places. Mexico is a poor counrty without much industry save the big corporations that moved there after NAFTA. It would not surprise me if Norway gives the corporations the right to extract oil and not any ownership of the well as many governments do. And of course the corporation knows what the deal is well before they start digging. I think that in principle, the corporation put up the capital and went throught the trouble to get the oil so the profit should all go to them. Then again, you could argue that the oil belongs to all the people of the country and should get a reward for it, but did these masses do anything to get it out of the ground and make any investment? Why should a government have the right to to tax the corporation? I understand you need taxes to pay for social services but to target those who earn high revenue is actually an infringement upon their rights. Most countries have incremental tax rates. This is wrong, everyone should pay the same rate.

  4. Hi all,

    Please don't get sidetracked with conspiracy theories or assigning blame. The issue I want you to work on is questioning your own beliefs and then determining if they have the basis of a congruent philosophy or are a collection of mind viruses you have been programmed with.

    -RG

  5. Hey Randy,

    Yesterday you said

    'Well I won’t be so sanctimonious to say I wouldn’t stab someone in the knee to prevent a nuclear attack. I doubt anyone can really know what they would do unless they were in that situation'

    But surely then that means that your philosophy is only congruent up to a point. Same as mine.

    Someone replied 'How many really face the situations or examples given above,[?]

    But it does not matter if we would be in those situations or not. The point is - to be congruent means to be congruent and we need to test how far we would go to be congruent. If we will only go close to death with it then we have to debate 'how close to death or nuclear attack do we wait before we break our philosophy'. Governments are faced with this decision every day they are just a little more upstream than my earlier example.

    Bush taps phones and illegally arrests people to stop the nuclear attack far in the future. So he can justify it with the same logic as someone who is sitting beside one that is going to go off in their face.

    I still think that true congruence means to be willing to die to hold the philosophy. How many of us can say that we are that congruent?

    Congruence is like being pregnant your either is or you isn't 😉

    Congruence to death or not congruent at all?

  6. Your entire personality is a mind virus of course, but as we become more and more conscious of our thoughts, and realize that we can choose what we believe serves us we gain more control over our lives.

    Of course, the idea of wanting control is a mind virus.

    We've been talking about a congruent philosophy, and my belief is that it's an impossibility, because eventually, they ALL break down.

    Sure, we believe in freedom, but not freedom to kill- so, I guess that's not freedom.

    Ok, so we believe in freedom as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else- well, there are many definitions of hurt.

    Ok, so we believe in freedom as long as it doesn't hurt someone PHYSICALLY- well, then what about accidents, or things that LEAD to physical harm... etc.

    Here's what I know- the current philosophy of "profit justifies the means" (a discussion we have here a lot) does NOT work.

    We have created a society that is scared of EVERYTHING because in order to sell something and earn a profit, we have to SCARE people into not buying from the competition.

    FEAR is our common philosophy, and it's destroying us- just like we feared.

  7. Ever since I started to read this blog and your book I have been questioning whether my beliefs are based on philosophy or memes. 🙂

    This past week my issues has been the practice of racism and letting killers go due to violating their rights.

    My philosophy is Rand's objectivism where reality exists independent of consciousness and rational selfishness.

    So I believe that racism is not rational and is actually harmful, so does that fit rational selfishness or is it a result of a meme?

    In your example of the rights of a killer who is let go because the evidence was tainted I looked at it from the point of view of the remedy. I accept that their the killers rights were violated however I do not agree with the remedy of throwing out the evidence.

    Still struggling in Toronto!

  8. Great posts Randy that really make you think and question where you got your beliefs and your programming. The only issue here is the blog being used as an open forum for others to rant and give their conspiracy theories. Hopefully the feedback can be kept to the original subject at hand that you outlined.
    I still find myself being influenced heavily in ways I was raised (wheher good or bad). Your blog and books have really made me step back and question the way I think about a lot of things, and now decide whether it serves me today. Thanks.
    RJ

  9. I to believe I was influenced by my up bringing the "meme" complexes. AN awaking over the last couple years and stepping back and asking...

    "Is this true for everyone all of the time"
    An universal truth

    Taking the emotion out of it and realizing how those thoughts are serving me ...

    Helping me stay on track, following my philosophy

  10. So this is where it is all coming together. A phrase that struck me in the previous post was "make as much potential profit as possible". I myself thought/reacted to this as greed first, then realized its all part of making money and there is nothing wrong with making all the profit you can. The point was already made that ethical and social responsibility considerations are already taken care of. A second phrase which caught my attention had to do with feeling guilty about being successful. There is nothing wrong with making as much as you can and there is no need to feel guilty either! You earned it fair and square so be accepting of your abundance. This is congruent with the philosophy of profit. This may also be a big step for most people to overcome. Conduct your affairs and investments in a way that is most profitable to you! Go and figure how to make even more profit - that's what I've started to do lately.

  11. This is a tough one... I know that I have been "programmed" all my life with good and bad memes. What makes me better (maybe) is to know the differences between the two. What makes me weak is having difficulty to break away from bad memes.
    One meme that we hear often (because I was exposed to it all my life) is: "If you do not succeed at first, try and try again". Which is not bad but you are always trying and trying again never getting to where you want to be.
    Now, my father (bless is soul) found a way to work around that meme and changed it to say: "If you do not succeed at first, you are about average". Now, that is one step towards achievement.
    We all have choice, and one choice that we have is to better ourselves. I am reading a very powerful book right now titled: "Evolving your brain" by Dr. Joe Dispenza. Wow! how about answering many questions that were left unanswered for me.
    Carole

  12. I was an interesting student for my Ethics professor, because the rest of the class consisted of just-out-of-high-school 18-year-olds and I was a 30 year old business partner. I think that it takes time and experience to cement the understanding that the end never justifies the means and that principles trump beliefs. I have deeply held religious principles that have come out of application of my beliefs. I no longer "believe" in my beliefs, but I often have to use that word to communicate my understanding to people who don't hold the same principles.

    If we codify "rights," then those rights must be applied universally, or they mean nothing. If a person commits a crime but the prosecutor cannot prove it under the rule of law, we must accept that. That same rule of law also protects the innocent, and it was for that purpose that the rule of law was codified. If I expect my rights to be held sacrosanct, I must old the rights of every other person to the same level of (I know I will not get this gramatically correct) sacrosanctity. The KKK MUST be allowed to assemble peaceably, under the same laws and protections that the ASPCA be allowed to assemble peaceably. If either organization steps outside of the rule of law, the law is invoked to protect the rights of all other people, to protect their peace and safety. We cannot claim that some people have more rights than others. We CAN claim that some people waive their rights when they step outside the rule of law.

    Corporations have a responsibility to their shareholders. However, as entities, they also have obligations to operate under the rule of law and as entities, as corporations want to be considered, they also must consider the rights of all others in order to have their own rights considered. The obligations on all others is that in order to have the corporations consider the rights of all others, all others must give consideration to the rights of the corporations. size does not negate or inflate an entity's rights.

    I recently saw someone use the phrase "pure capitalism" in an indication that it would be bad for
    America. I disagree. Pure capitalism would be the best thing that could happen for America, because pure capitalism is a fair exchange of value with due consideration of each party's rights and obligations to the contract. A pure capitalist understands the contract at hand, but the thought processes of a pure capitalist also involve the understanding that he does not have the right to negate the rights of any other individual. Pure capitalism would not degrade the environment; it would protect it and improve it Pure capitalism would not weaken the hourly wage earner, it would empower him and improve him. A capitalist isn't living for the sake of another person, but understands the value of all other people.

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  • 23 comments on “Memes vs. Philosophy”

    1. I guess my meme is like the Google guys, "Do no harm" and make and contribute as much as you can...
      Curious Randy, what do you think of Richard Dawkin's Selfish Gene and God Delusion???

    2. Cognitive dissonance means to hold two contradictory beliefs simultaneously and accept that both are true. George Orwell called it ‘doublethink’. Read 1984 again together with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. As insiders (members of the Fabian Society where the emblem is a wolf in sheep’s clothing - you couldn’t make it up!) they knew what was coming, and it’s here.

      A recent poll indicated that about half of American citizens feel that the government is a threat to their individual rights. That is a significant number and shows that people are finally beginning to question their insane leaders.

      With all of the blatant idiotic episodes by world leaders and statements made that are so obviously insincere, more and more people are realizing that they are being tricked and used and manipulated.

      Whether it's proving that Obama was born in Kenya, or that H1N1 virus is not dangerous, or that 911 was a staged inside job, people all over the world will soon join together to remove the yoke of totalitarianism and injustice that pervade our society.

      It may take one or two more heinous events to seal the deal, but, humanity is finally waking up and at least thinking out loud that hey, something smells rotten!

      Maybe you're ok with that it's raining oil in Florida, that the oxygen level is at a minimum for survival, that your food, water, health care and supplements is poison and that the only option for people is seemingly to jump on empty opportunities.

      I'm not.

      The powers that be don't want you to dig deep enough to see the crap you thought was the solution.

      The best slaves don't realize they are slaves, rich or poor.

      However, even the troops are waking up now - a must see:

      davidicke.com/articles/media-and-appearances/36265-even-the-troops-are-waking-up-a-fantastic-video

      When people are really pushed up against the wall, they finally start to do something.

      1. White...

        Great point!.During WWII, the top 1% of all income earners paid 90% of their income to finance the war and they also served. I am still waiting for the Bushes'Cheney's and Limbaughs's of this country to send a family member to either Iraq of Agnastinagn.
        While we the country went to war, the top 1% of all income earner got the tax breaks.
        The oil companies have a tuned of $36 billions in subsidies in the name of "Free Enterprise" and "Personal Responsability."
        A subsidy is a goverment handout for the corporations.

    3. More specifically, it is a system of thought, done by investigation of the nature, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods.

      Can you expand on based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods?
      The evidence is clear that the bankers stole money or bankrupted theirs out of greed and LACK OF OVERSIGHT. The logical conclusion is to created more regulation to avoid this mess again.
      Another example of using a a congruent political thought is a social democracy like Norway. Norway has oil but instead of a few corporations making all the money, the money is distributed through society through high taxation and there are millionaries in Norway and nobody is starving like Mexico where the richest person in the world lives.

      1. Norway and Mexico are 2 different places. Mexico is a poor counrty without much industry save the big corporations that moved there after NAFTA. It would not surprise me if Norway gives the corporations the right to extract oil and not any ownership of the well as many governments do. And of course the corporation knows what the deal is well before they start digging. I think that in principle, the corporation put up the capital and went throught the trouble to get the oil so the profit should all go to them. Then again, you could argue that the oil belongs to all the people of the country and should get a reward for it, but did these masses do anything to get it out of the ground and make any investment? Why should a government have the right to to tax the corporation? I understand you need taxes to pay for social services but to target those who earn high revenue is actually an infringement upon their rights. Most countries have incremental tax rates. This is wrong, everyone should pay the same rate.

    4. Hi all,

      Please don't get sidetracked with conspiracy theories or assigning blame. The issue I want you to work on is questioning your own beliefs and then determining if they have the basis of a congruent philosophy or are a collection of mind viruses you have been programmed with.

      -RG

    5. Hey Randy,

      Yesterday you said

      'Well I won’t be so sanctimonious to say I wouldn’t stab someone in the knee to prevent a nuclear attack. I doubt anyone can really know what they would do unless they were in that situation'

      But surely then that means that your philosophy is only congruent up to a point. Same as mine.

      Someone replied 'How many really face the situations or examples given above,[?]

      But it does not matter if we would be in those situations or not. The point is - to be congruent means to be congruent and we need to test how far we would go to be congruent. If we will only go close to death with it then we have to debate 'how close to death or nuclear attack do we wait before we break our philosophy'. Governments are faced with this decision every day they are just a little more upstream than my earlier example.

      Bush taps phones and illegally arrests people to stop the nuclear attack far in the future. So he can justify it with the same logic as someone who is sitting beside one that is going to go off in their face.

      I still think that true congruence means to be willing to die to hold the philosophy. How many of us can say that we are that congruent?

      Congruence is like being pregnant your either is or you isn't 😉

      Congruence to death or not congruent at all?

    6. Your entire personality is a mind virus of course, but as we become more and more conscious of our thoughts, and realize that we can choose what we believe serves us we gain more control over our lives.

      Of course, the idea of wanting control is a mind virus.

      We've been talking about a congruent philosophy, and my belief is that it's an impossibility, because eventually, they ALL break down.

      Sure, we believe in freedom, but not freedom to kill- so, I guess that's not freedom.

      Ok, so we believe in freedom as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else- well, there are many definitions of hurt.

      Ok, so we believe in freedom as long as it doesn't hurt someone PHYSICALLY- well, then what about accidents, or things that LEAD to physical harm... etc.

      Here's what I know- the current philosophy of "profit justifies the means" (a discussion we have here a lot) does NOT work.

      We have created a society that is scared of EVERYTHING because in order to sell something and earn a profit, we have to SCARE people into not buying from the competition.

      FEAR is our common philosophy, and it's destroying us- just like we feared.

    7. Ever since I started to read this blog and your book I have been questioning whether my beliefs are based on philosophy or memes. 🙂

      This past week my issues has been the practice of racism and letting killers go due to violating their rights.

      My philosophy is Rand's objectivism where reality exists independent of consciousness and rational selfishness.

      So I believe that racism is not rational and is actually harmful, so does that fit rational selfishness or is it a result of a meme?

      In your example of the rights of a killer who is let go because the evidence was tainted I looked at it from the point of view of the remedy. I accept that their the killers rights were violated however I do not agree with the remedy of throwing out the evidence.

      Still struggling in Toronto!

    8. Great posts Randy that really make you think and question where you got your beliefs and your programming. The only issue here is the blog being used as an open forum for others to rant and give their conspiracy theories. Hopefully the feedback can be kept to the original subject at hand that you outlined.
      I still find myself being influenced heavily in ways I was raised (wheher good or bad). Your blog and books have really made me step back and question the way I think about a lot of things, and now decide whether it serves me today. Thanks.
      RJ

    9. I to believe I was influenced by my up bringing the "meme" complexes. AN awaking over the last couple years and stepping back and asking...

      "Is this true for everyone all of the time"
      An universal truth

      Taking the emotion out of it and realizing how those thoughts are serving me ...

      Helping me stay on track, following my philosophy

    10. So this is where it is all coming together. A phrase that struck me in the previous post was "make as much potential profit as possible". I myself thought/reacted to this as greed first, then realized its all part of making money and there is nothing wrong with making all the profit you can. The point was already made that ethical and social responsibility considerations are already taken care of. A second phrase which caught my attention had to do with feeling guilty about being successful. There is nothing wrong with making as much as you can and there is no need to feel guilty either! You earned it fair and square so be accepting of your abundance. This is congruent with the philosophy of profit. This may also be a big step for most people to overcome. Conduct your affairs and investments in a way that is most profitable to you! Go and figure how to make even more profit - that's what I've started to do lately.

    11. This is a tough one... I know that I have been "programmed" all my life with good and bad memes. What makes me better (maybe) is to know the differences between the two. What makes me weak is having difficulty to break away from bad memes.
      One meme that we hear often (because I was exposed to it all my life) is: "If you do not succeed at first, try and try again". Which is not bad but you are always trying and trying again never getting to where you want to be.
      Now, my father (bless is soul) found a way to work around that meme and changed it to say: "If you do not succeed at first, you are about average". Now, that is one step towards achievement.
      We all have choice, and one choice that we have is to better ourselves. I am reading a very powerful book right now titled: "Evolving your brain" by Dr. Joe Dispenza. Wow! how about answering many questions that were left unanswered for me.
      Carole

    12. I was an interesting student for my Ethics professor, because the rest of the class consisted of just-out-of-high-school 18-year-olds and I was a 30 year old business partner. I think that it takes time and experience to cement the understanding that the end never justifies the means and that principles trump beliefs. I have deeply held religious principles that have come out of application of my beliefs. I no longer "believe" in my beliefs, but I often have to use that word to communicate my understanding to people who don't hold the same principles.

      If we codify "rights," then those rights must be applied universally, or they mean nothing. If a person commits a crime but the prosecutor cannot prove it under the rule of law, we must accept that. That same rule of law also protects the innocent, and it was for that purpose that the rule of law was codified. If I expect my rights to be held sacrosanct, I must old the rights of every other person to the same level of (I know I will not get this gramatically correct) sacrosanctity. The KKK MUST be allowed to assemble peaceably, under the same laws and protections that the ASPCA be allowed to assemble peaceably. If either organization steps outside of the rule of law, the law is invoked to protect the rights of all other people, to protect their peace and safety. We cannot claim that some people have more rights than others. We CAN claim that some people waive their rights when they step outside the rule of law.

      Corporations have a responsibility to their shareholders. However, as entities, they also have obligations to operate under the rule of law and as entities, as corporations want to be considered, they also must consider the rights of all others in order to have their own rights considered. The obligations on all others is that in order to have the corporations consider the rights of all others, all others must give consideration to the rights of the corporations. size does not negate or inflate an entity's rights.

      I recently saw someone use the phrase "pure capitalism" in an indication that it would be bad for
      America. I disagree. Pure capitalism would be the best thing that could happen for America, because pure capitalism is a fair exchange of value with due consideration of each party's rights and obligations to the contract. A pure capitalist understands the contract at hand, but the thought processes of a pure capitalist also involve the understanding that he does not have the right to negate the rights of any other individual. Pure capitalism would not degrade the environment; it would protect it and improve it Pure capitalism would not weaken the hourly wage earner, it would empower him and improve him. A capitalist isn't living for the sake of another person, but understands the value of all other people.

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