<philosophy> /meem/ [By analogy with "gene"] Richard Dawkins's term for
an idea considered as a replicator, especially with the connotation that memes
parasitise people into propagating them much as viruses do.
Memes can be considered the unit of cultural evolution. Ideas can evolve in a
way analogous to biological evolution. Some ideas survive better than others;
ideas can mutate through, for example, misunderstandings; and two ideas can
recombine to produce a new idea involving elements of each parent idea.
The term is used especially in the phrase "meme complex" denoting a group of
mutually supporting memes that form an organised belief system, such as a
religion. However, "meme" is often misused to mean "meme complex".
Use of the term connotes acceptance of the idea that in humans (and presumably
other tool- and language-using sophonts) cultural evolution by selection of
adaptive ideas has become more important than biological evolution by selection
of hereditary traits. Hackers find this idea congenial for tolerably obvious
See also memetic algorithm.
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