Dawkins used the term to refer to any cultural entity that an observer might consider a replicator. He hypothesised that one could view many cultural entities as replicators, and pointed to melodies, fashions and learned skills as examples. Memes generally replicate through exposure to humans, who have evolved as efficient copiers of information and behaviour. Because humans do not always copy memes perfectly, and because they may refine, combine or otherwise modify them with other memes to create new memes, they can change over time. Dawkins likened the process by which memes survive and change through the evolution of culture to the natural selection of genes in biological evolution.
Dawkins defined the meme as a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation and replication, but later definitions would vary. Memes, analogously to genes, vary in their aptitude to replicate; memes that are good at getting themselves copied tend to spread and remain, whereas the less good ones have a higher probability of being ignored and forgotten. Thus "better" memes are selected. The lack of a consistent, rigorous, and precise understanding of what typically makes up one unit of cultural transmission remains a problem in debates about memetics. In contrast, the concept of genetics gained concrete evidence with the discovery of the biological functions of DNA. Meme transmission does not necessarily require a physical medium, unlike genetic transmission.
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Other articles related to "concept, concepts":
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Famous quotes containing the word concept:
“The new concept of the child as equal and the new integration of children into adult life has helped bring about a gradual but certain erosion of these boundaries that once separated the world of children from the word of adults, boundaries that allowed adults to treat children differently than they treated other adults because they understood that children are different.”
—Marie Winn (20th century)
“Teaching Black Studies, I find that students are quick to label a black person who has grown up in a predominantly white setting and attended similar schools as not black enough. ...Our concept of black experience has been too narrow and constricting.”
—bell hooks (b. c. 1955)
“The concept of a person is logically prior to that of an individual consciousness. The concept of a person is not to be analysed as that of an animated body or an embodied anima.”
—Sir Peter Frederick Strawson (b. 1919)