Darwinistic Process (meme)
A Darwinistic process is something that follows many or all of the criteria for Darwinistic natural selection. An entity that is part of a Darwinistic process is often called a "meme," a term coined by Richard Dawkins.
Darwinian natural selection criteria
- Variation: There is variation in traits of the population, owing to genes
- Differential Success Some individuals are more fit than others
- Selection: The environment selects in favor of more fit individuals. Individuals that are more fit produce more offspring than less fit individuals
- Reproduction: The more that an individual produces offspring, the more its genes are represented in the future population
Typically, A population has more individuals than the environment can support. By the selective mechanism, only genes that are fit in the environment will be propagated. Therefore, individuals will become adapted to the environment.
The nature of memes
Since Darwin, biologists have studied how the process of natural selection guides the evolution of all life. Biologists specialize in living, organic creatures and study their DNA. However, the above criteria may occur outside the confines of organic creatures (biology). For example, programmers might recognize reproduction as a form of recursion. Natural selection, outside of what we traditionally define as "life", is the subject of this article.
It is worth noting that the "reproduction" criterion works differently in organic life than it does for memes. In organic life, the organism replaces itself with other memes of the same species. However, memes can be invented, created, formed, or spontaneously arise. Something which, if it happened to organic life, we would call it spontaneous generation; this is essentially exclusive to memes.
Further, memes could theoretically live forever. If in conjunction with the last point, this self-propagation can be viewed as itself part of the Darwinistic cycle. Rather than creating offspring that are different from the parent, the meme is constantly mutating (or not mutating) itself. Its ability to survive reflects whether those mutations are fit.
Advantages of Darwinism
Genetic patterns that evolve their properties have a few advantages over structures that are designed from the top-down.
- They have the capacity to be incredibly complicated, beyond what any human can design
- They are specially adapted to fit the needs of incredibly complicated environments
- They are very optimized for efficiency
Examples of memes
- Companies: Often very complicated institutions, to the point where nobody truly understands all of their inner workings. Moreover, they fit the needs of the economy, which is itself an incredibly complicated system. No institution of central planners can possibly respond to its needs the same way a private firm does. Which is why the free market is considered more efficient than Soviet-style planning. Companies can only survive by providing goods and services that people connect to paying for. The companies that survive are the ones that find a way to do that, however difficult that may be. That is how the free market optimizes for efficiency.
- Ideas: This video elaborates on that. Ideas self-propagate or self-replicate, using language as a medium to spread from one mind to another, competing with other ideas for attention and influence. Ideas also change and evolve with time, being influenced by every mind that spreads them, every “node” in the viral spread.
- Words and Languages: self-propagate by similar means as ideas. Words and language gradually evolve through time.
- Memes can themselves contain memes. For example, governments are memes, because they evolve with time and compete for land and power. They contain within them competing memes: political parties. Political parties compete for votes and influence (at least in theory) given at the behest of the voters. In theory, this makes Democracies more responsive to the will of the people.