Genetic and Memetic Legacies

Scientifically speaking, the purpose of life is to make babies and ensure that they have babies in turn.
This is our legacy.

But so too can our memes reproduce, recombine, and perpetuate themselves long after we’re dead.

Because our behaviors, impressions, and ideas are not easily tangible or measurable they tend to be relegated to the realm of things that are subjective and more or less unreal much like art, beauty, or meaning.

But consider a man who has fathered a family but cannot relate to his own children. He has succeeded genetically, but failed utterly to pass on his world view, his perspective, his memes to the next generation.
In a way, his flesh lives on but his mind and very soul perishes. And as many a father has found, there is something nightmarish in this.

Let’s also consider the great luminary who leaves behind no children but creates ideas that echo through the centuries.
Their spirit lives on, but their ideas are twisted by the great majority who do not have it in their nature to understand.
The greatest ideas accomplish little if there are not those of the right flesh to receive, understand, and enact them in subsequent generations.

I would suppose then, that a complete legacy is both genetic and memetic in nature?

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8 responses to “Genetic and Memetic Legacies

  1. If neither having children nor one’s profound ideas being understood guarantees a complete legacy, then wouldn’t it be enough if some of the luminary’s ideas are understood by some people who have fathers?

    • If generations pass and the luminaries are celibate, who is going to be there to receive and appreciate their ideas? The most creative and inquisitive people are effectively purged from the gene pool.

      Thus the need for a legacy to be both genetic and memetic in nature. Neither is whole in itself.

  2. I’m new here so please bear with me. I am on the verge of quitting blogging because it’s so difficult to find any of substance, and yours has it, so I hope you’ll be patient with me. My question is that if man has been on the planet for 200,000 years, then hasn’t it always been this way? Are you saying that legacies do not exist except in those rare instances where a brilliant person not only bears a child who receives those same genes, but is also a good parent? So are we sort of doomed to dumbness?

  3. You haven’t done anything to make me impatient. All you did was ask some (great) questions.

    Like any other creature on Earth, I figure we’re only going to be exactly as intelligent as required for optimum survival.

    A brain, claws, wings, venom gland or any other survival adaptation costs time and energy to develop and sustain. Thus any adaptation must yield suitable returns on the investment.

    Luminaries have always been very few and many of them have had few if any children.

    If we were to have a race of luminaries, they would have to reproduce at least as successfully as the rest of the field of competitors. Actually, they would have to start out-competing everyone else if the likelihood of people like them was ever to increase.

    Thus, yes, our present world might be different had memetic rock stars such as Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, or Rosalind Franklin left behind progeny.
    I’m not suggesting that Newton’s kids would be just like him(Actually, the Bach family alone did in fact produce 3-4 notable composers by itself.), but that their existence and continuing spread into the gene pool would make humanity more pre-disposed towards high levels of reasoning ability than it was before.

    Whether humanity becomes smarter or dumber, it’s all just a matter of who has the most children that survive and reproduce in turn.

    Are we ‘doomed?’ Right now, we pretty much are.
    Because most people are unable to perceive patterns in human societies, there is little to no potential for any fundamental change.
    If the average person lacks a certain ability to think on the large scale, in the long term, and to handle abstraction, societies collapse into a chaos of zero sum gaming that hurts everyone, just as they’ve been since the dawn of agriculture and the first cities and kingdoms.

    In many ways, someone capable of higher levels of reason is at a competitive disadvantage in society.
    -Fewer like people to associate with.
    -Fewer members of the opposite sex that are compatible mates.
    -Slowed down in the competitive field by stopping to think.
    -Able to recognize the emptiness of what others are trying to accomplish, but unable to accomplish much alone.
    -Discouraged by the inherent injustice and loaded games that most others are unable to perceive.
    -Persecuted for refusing to play said loaded games or playing them with lack of enthusiasm.

    Then and now, being ‘smart’ is a great way to get weeded out of the gene pool.

    What would change it?
    A critical mass of critical thinkers that could shelter one another from the tyrannical majority. If such a group found a way to industrialize reproduction and thereby justify their Darwinian value, they would become the future of humanity.

  4. I’ve always subconsciously known this but have never seen it condensed so succinctly into a rational illustration. I guess I express it in a form that is too emotional or even hostile, which is further alienating. I’m no critical thinker (just critical) but I feel the discouragement of what life is and did not have children by choice.

    I never thought of developing only to what is needed to survive as a logical (and sad) evolutionary reason for a world of mediocrity. It makes sense. I think most parents want their children to be average so they’ll fit in, though they probably don’t consciously know this, it’s more of a protective instinct. Good for the parent, bad for progress.

    Thanks for discussing with me. I’ve tried to interact with a few other bloggers whose thinking I respect but I’m sorry to say there is a certain snobbishness among them…perhaps they do not answer comments from people without a Ph.D.

  5. Our emotions are there to help us survive.
    That seemingly random feeling in our gut is typically guiding us through a very coherent and rational strategy.
    If you can understand this, you can much better understand who you are and why you do what you do.
    And once you have this knowledge you will better be able to rationally formulate your beliefs and not just speak from emotion.
    Also, I might recommend keeping a notebook or diary. What starts out as pent up emotional ranting resolves over time into clear and coherent patterns. Again, you will be able to rationally formulate your beliefs in a way others can better understand.

    Blogs have the tendency to attract a core clique of followers and once there’s enough of them, the blog master has only so much time and energy to deal with “noobs.” He or she makes the mistake of becoming preoccupied with a core constituency and ceases to reach out to a wider audience. These communities tend to become ideologically inbred and critical thinking ceases.

    Never allow anyone to make you feel inferior because of their credentials or your lack of credentials. This is an appeal to authority, a logical fallacy. If they are right, more experienced, more knowledgeable it should be evident in what they have to say.
    At present, the world is in a particularly tough spot and there’s a lot of “experts” out there who failed to do anything about the problems we’re facing or come up with new ideas that could help.
    They have a lot of guts talking down to or dismissing anyone right about now.
    It’s time for amateurs to step up.

    What’s more: consider how the whole system works.
    “Experts” require funding to do their research.
    Who gives them funding?
    Consider the old saying “He who pays the piper calls the tune.”
    Or “A dog never bites the hand that feeds it.”
    We aren’t paying them, so why do we assume they have any interest in helping us?

    You will find that this world of ours makes much more sense if you follow the incentives. Also you will find it much easier to predict what people, organizations, nations, stocks will do next.

    Note: The writings I link to are also mine. I have multiple blogs to address different topics and write them under different names.
    Each is a facet of who I am and what I’m trying to say.

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