Darwinism, Memes, and Creativity: A Critique of Darwinian Analogical Reasoning from Nature to Culture

Dissertation, University of Regensburg (2007)
The dissertation criticizes two analogical applications of Darwinism to the spheres of mind and culture: the Darwinian approach to creativity and memetics. These theories rely on three basic analogies: the ontological analogy states that the basic ontological units of culture are so-called memes, which are replicators like genes; the origination analogy states that novelty in human creativity emerges in a "blind" Darwinian manner; and the explanatory units of selection analogy states that memes are "egoistic" and that they can spread independently of our mind. The detailed philosophical analysis offered in the dissertation shows that these three analogies rely on either wrong or trivial statements: they provide either wrong or no new descriptions or explanations of the phenomena at hand. In Chapter One, I introduce the diverse ways, in which contemporary Darwinism is used today outside of evolutionary biology. Chapter Two explains what it means to claim that something evolves in a Darwinian manner. Chapter Three to Five address each of the three analogies separately. Darwinism applied to culture and mind, at least in the way discussed in this study, is not a dangerous idea. It leads either to wrong claims or to a re-telling in Darwinian terms of what we have already known.
Keywords Darwinism  creativity  culture  analogies  cultural evolution  memetics
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