Book: The Meme Machine

Blackmore presents her theory of the meme, the cultural and mental equivalent of the gene. Her approach is quite similar to Dawkin’s The Selfish Gene and emphasizes the “meme’s eye view” to develop theories on the origin of language, religion, and altruism, among other things.

Dawkins himself wrote the foreword for the book and he is careful to avoid endorsing the theory directly. I suspect he does not fully embrace it. Neither do I; though many of the arguments are compelling, Blackmore confuses, as Dennett likes to say, “explaining” with “explaining away” and ends up denying human free will. The book concludes with a rather fuzzy and shallow Zen Buddhism as a substitute.

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