Principia Cybernetica Web

Memetic Evolution

[Node to be completed]

As mentioned in section Social Evolution, the metasystem transition leading to human psychology and society also results in the emergence of a completely new level for the application of variation and selection, and of evolution itself, that of memetics and human culture. This is a turning point in the history of the world: the era of Reason begins. The human individual becomes a point of concentration of Cosmic Creativity. With the new mechanism of evolution, its rate increases manifold.

One of the implications of that transition concerns the interpretation of survival. In natural selection, the source of variation is the mutation of the gene; nature creates by experimenting on genes and seeing what kinds of bodies they produce. Therefore, nature has to destroy older creations in order to make room for the newer ones. In biological evolution survival means essentially survival of the genes, not so much survival of the individuals. With the exception of species extinction, we may say that genes are effectively immortal: it does not matter that an individual dies, as long as his genes persist in its offspring.

In socio-cultural evolution, the role of genes is played by memes, embodied in individual brains or social organizations, or stored in books, computers and other knowledge media. Thus the creative core of human individual is the engine of memetic evolution. In memetic evolution, memes must be immortal. While the mortality of multicellular organisms is necessary for biological evolution, it is no longer necessary for memetic evolution.

For the general purpose of evolution there is no more sense in killing humans. At the present new stage of evolution, the evolution of human-made culture, the human brain and its memetically based culture is the source of creativity, not an object of experimentation. Its loss in death is unjustifiable; it is an evolutionary absurdity. The immortality of human beings is on the agenda of Cosmic Evolution.

Copyright© 1993 Principia Cybernetica - Referencing this page

C. Joslyn, V. Turchin,

Aug 1993


Metasystem Transition Theory

The Future of Humanity

Prev. Next


Add comment...