What is a Living Idea?

How do we change our Selves, or the world around us? First, we must recognize that we live in a symbolic world as well as a physical world. As we know all too well, living ideas our symbolic world is powerful enough to alter the physical world.

To begin with, we need to recognize that the symbolic world is every bit alive as the physical world. There is some skepticism as to whether ideas are actually “alive.” Is a community alive? Hybrid Pools Is a culture alive? Is the Self alive? It all depends on how you define “alive,” doesn’t it?

The sociobiologist Richard Dawkins imaginatively illustrates what it is to be a successful life form by comparing DNA to, of all things, silt (you know, Lazada affiliate guide like mud).

If we look at silt in a stream we can see that if it is too fine it will all be carried out to sea, while if it is too coarse it will pile up and eventually block the stream, changing its course. (Sometimes the course of the stream bed is changed so radically that these coarse sediments end up separated from the living stream entirely, systempeaker stranded in an “oxbow.”) These examples represent less than perfect life forms that exist for a while and then go extinct.

Silt that is the perfect size, however, spreads itself evenly upon the stream bed throughout the length of the stream, and whenever the stream changes its course the perfectly-sized silt is taken along with it and lines its bottom. Thus, the perfect sized silt survives!

In the same way our bodies, from generation to generation are like a stream down which genes (DNA) flow. The more “fit” genes survive on down through mankind, telegram profile link while others, too brutish or too weak, are lost or left behind in the oxbows of biological history.

But here is the kicker: ideas replicate themselves, too. Dawkins coined the word “memes” to describe ideas as life forms that replicate themselves.

Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes, fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperm or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.

Ideas manage to get themselves replicated almost perfectly, most of the time, in computers and books and pictures and what not. Ideas, of course, depend on human beings to replicate them. jelenew

When an idea attracts us we move toward it. That movement, believe it or not, is ritual. Imagine the early idea that some tribesmen came up with, that they could influence the weather with a gesture. It seemed to work once, so they did it again, and as the ritual became a magical routine, and then, over a long time, it became a religious tradition.

Since ritual is at the very heart of our traditions, giving them their form, sometimes the minor alteration of a ritual can give new life to an old tradition – much in the way the alteration of a single note in a melody can make it come alive for us. Despite the change of a note we still have melody; naughty teens if not the exact melody we started with, we still have music – and it still brings us joy. Traditions, cultures, communities, and individual Selves, just like melodies, are living, evolving symbols.


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