Memes, Genes and Others are Fauceirs

This is actually a comment on a podcast. The second part of this podcast is not listenable to me because of so much lingual titubation. Lets stick to the main points in the first part.

The problem of similarities. Memes like genes are fauceirs and they behave as such. They share common properties as they belong to the same class, but it is pointless to expect they were identical. In fact, if you analyze fauceirs cladistically, you will find that memes and genes are closely related. That is why memes were so readily identified as mental cousins of genes.

The problem with the definition of genes and memes. Now that we know both belong to the same class we can define them by a genus–differentia definition: They are fauceirs characterized by some specific properties. This prevents from being vague, such as stretch of DNA or cultural item etc.

The problem of competition for resources. The claim that memes fight for memory and social awareness the same way as computer programs compete for CPU time is an oversimplification. Genes don’t compete for storage space on a stretch of DNA, at least they don’t do so in eukaryotes. We know gene compete by the phenotypes they define, and these phenotypes compete for resources such as food and mating partners.

What meme are and what not remains obscure to me too. From fauceir perspective, I feel two concepts are mingled in the theory of memes:

  1. Memes are fauceirs. That’s quite clear to me.
  2. Memes have an evolutionary history. Genes came first. Memes evolved in organisms that are controlled by genes. Therefore it is legitimate to say memes evolved from genes. Is it surprising than that memes retain some features of their ancestors.

Creative Commons License

This work by Paul Netman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Fauceir theory is developed and © by Mato Nagel and available at


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