Friday, 21 September 2012
Spreading from culture to culture, they mimic the viruses that spread from host to host, the gossip that fulfills casual conversation or even the dispersion of peanut butter onto bread. They are the ever emerging counterparts, the inorganic analogs to genes centred on an almost evolutionary yet epidemiological paradigm. From the lore of traditions that brings to fruition the identities of a people, to the rumours and heresay that sensationalise everyday chitchat, memes are to a grand extent mimic machines that do far more than xeroxing and filing. Memes are ideas and attitudes that permeate circles of thought, memes are fashions and styles conforming to the vogue of the zeitgeist, memes are the attitudes and the behaviours that define the sheer ethology of a society. But what captures a grander scope, a vivider vista, remains the analogy of the biological to the cultural; of the replicating, mutating and selective gene to the proliferating meme, the birth of memetics on the governing dynamics of genetics. One may draw further parallels regarding such a view of human nature, the added pressures of variation and competition, driving memes into their own states of either extinction or survival. As rational as this may sound, memes have stumbled upon an unsuspecting Pandora's box, the very essence of their form and function compromised by the lack of an empirical base, the absence of a coded sequence or even the promotion of a reductionist outlook. Memes are almost the antithesis of genes, besides their inadequacy for script, they present a rather philosophical idea in contrast to that of the scientific. They are entities devoid of a triadic nature when examined in terms of semiotics, a meme is merely a sign, a functionally degenerate thing confined to an infinite loop of copying, a regressive phase of mimicking bound by materialist ideals. Rummaging through the meme pool, we realise a certain implicitness as to the destiny of memes as not solely products of a conjecture but as entities. We realise a certain metaphorical 'selfishness', not as a result of drives influenced by motivation or will but by the prioritisation for replication. The serving of the sentient interests of the meme ipsilateral of the hosts and replicators is more or less a 'selfishness', one that copies away at the mind like a mimic machine does at a clone.
Friday, 7 September 2012
He remains synonymous with the spirit of modern thought. An archetypal thinker, who perforated virtually every node of philosophical inquiry, deployed a seminal ground for intellectual endeavour and defined the rudiments of logic and reason. His permeation of not solely the philosophical but rather the political and the mathematical further paints the portrait of an eloquent twentieth century guru, directed by the pithiness of pure logic. Bertrand Russell remains to western analytic philosophy what Chaucer remains to the English language, a passionate and time-honoured sage, perpetuated by the rigor and vigor that equates his legacy. For when we examine Russell, we neither work up from the canons of metaphysics nor work down from the echoes of empiricism to distill his wisdom; rather we seek the intermediary scientific channel, the preponderance of its method and practice. Russell's admiration for the sciences alongside his odyssey in reducing mathematics to logical grounds, is foreseeable in its attempt to produce a coherent system of the world. But it was far more than the principles of logicism that drove him, it was the purity of proof and reason encapsulated throughout mathematics. Russell's substitution theory alongside his repertoire of set theory and axioms captured such a reverence of mathematics in his magnum opus Principia Mathematica. In addition, the sheer critique of the Kantian methodology, the opposition to Godel's theorems of incompleteness further vested the abstractions of such a iconoclastic yet mindful mind. Russell's aptitude on the frontier of metaphysics presents a skeptic stance, the absolute antithesis of faith as divested in his famed teapot analogy, proposing that the presence of a celestial or cosmic teapot is just as lacking as the evidence for it. Such is the course of Russell's kaleidoscopic worldview.