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July 04 , 2009

The Selfish Meme


Culture is a unique and fascinating aspect of the human species. How did it emerge and how did it develop? Richard Dawkins has suggested that culture evolves through meme - that is, cultural replicators subject to variation and selection in just the same ways that genes are in the biological world. In this sense human culture is the product of a mindless evolutionary algorithm. Does this imply, as some have argued, that we are meme machines and that the conscious self is an illusion? Kate Distin's highly readable and accessible book presents for the first time a fully developed and workable concept of cultural DNA. She argues that culture develops both through memetic evolution and human creativity, and that mimetic evolution is perfectly compatible with the view of humans as conscious and intelligent. This book should find a wide readership amongst philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, and will also interest many non-academic readers.

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