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The Meme Machine by Susan Blackmore

The Meme Machine (1999)

by Susan Blackmore

Other authors: Richard Dawkins (Foreword)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Mixed thoughts on this. I think Ms. Blackmore has some good substance to her memetics theory, but there are points where she gets too fuzzy, and her explanations didn't convince me completely of its merits. She compares the replication of memes to that of genes, requiring fidelity, fecundity and longevity. I haven't bought off on their fecundity, much less the fidelity of memetic replication, but as this is not my field, I'll just keep thinking.

It took me mulling over the whole when near the end to nail what should have been obvious to me earlier: she restricts her memetic theory to humans because, she contends, only humans can imitate. [As an aside, something like that is direly ripe for religious picking (to counter the dreaded evolutionary genetic theory). And I'm surprised it hasn't to my knowledge been picked.] I just read Frans de Waals' The Bonobo and the Atheist and I wonder if he would agree - I suspect not.

I also think she imparts too large an impact to her theory: Evolutionary theory faced enormous opposition because it provided a view of humans that humans do not like. The same will probably be true of memetics.

Not really. How is any of what is in this book something humans will not like? Moreover, how many people actually know anything about it? Or care? My observation above hints at no conflict with their religious thoughts on human evolution (or non-evolution.) By limiting such a theory to humans only, one shouldn't be comparing to genetics - genes are in every life in our tiny world, but memes are limited to one highly developed primate? ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
Benzersiz taklit yetenekleriyle insanlar, sıra dışı varlıklardır. Fikirleri, alışkanlıkları, becerileri, davranışları, buluşları, şarkıları ve hikayeleri birbirlerinden kopyalarlar. Bunların hepsi birer "mem"dir. Mimik kelimesinden türeyen mem kavramının temel özelliği bunların gelecek kuşaklara taklitle aktarılmasıdır. Genler kendilerini moleküler düzeyde kopya ederek çoğalırken, memler toplum içinde taklit edilerek hayatta kalırlar. Hoşa giden bir müzik parçasının, bir ressamın tablosunun taklit edilmesi, bütün kültürlerde ortak efsanelerin olması gibi, başarılı olan "kültür parçası" taklit edilir, başarısız olan elenir.

Biyoloji insanın fizyolojik evrimini açıklarken, memetik bilimi insanın kültürel evrimine ışık tutar. Memetik kuram, Richard Dawkins'in 1976 yılında ortaya attığı "mem" kavramına dayanır. Dawkins'in evrim sürecinin son aşaması olarak nitelendirdiği bu 3. eşleyiciler (ilki kristal yapılar, ikincisi ise bu kristal yapıların üzerinde ortaya çıkan DNA moleküllerindeki genler olmak üzere), popüler dilde "kültürel genler" olarak tanımlanmaktadır.

Susan Blackmore, memetik kuramındaki çalışmaları ve memetik araştırmaların halka aktarılmasındaki katkılarından dolayı son yıllarda çok ünlenmiş bir bilim insanıdır. Konuyla ilgili birçok popüler kitabı olan Dr. Susan Blackmore ayrıca bilinç felsefesine yönelik çalışmaları ile de adından söz ettirmektedir.

"Her teori en iyi atışını yapmayı hak eder ve bu, Susan Blackmore'un mem kuramına kazandırdığı şeydir. ... Kitabını tavsiye ettiğim için memnunum."

RIGHARD DAWKINS'in önsözünden ....

"Memetiğin kültürel bir bilim olmasını uman ya da bundan korkan herkes, sağlam temellere dayanan bu keşfi, çok aydınlatıcı bulacaklar." DANIEL DENNETT

"Dawkins, Gen Bencildir'de küçük bir saatli bomba yerleştirmişti. ... Susan Blackmore o bombayı patlattı. "MATT RIDLEY, Times Literary Supplement

"Memetiklc tanışmamızı sağlayan, bugüne kadar yazılmış en iyi kitap..." ( )
  Cagatay | Jun 13, 2016 |
The one that started it all for me. I wasn't a big fan of non-fiction before reading this, but afterwards I tried to grapple evolutionary biology, sociobiology, psychology.... I'm so curious about this stuff now; I wish I could go back to school and get guidance from a professor. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
I have to admit that when I first started reading this book I was taken aback, but I stuck with it and am ultimately impressed with the case that Blackmore painstakingly makes. I would highly recommend this book, especially if you have an enduring interest in human culture and religion. Even if you don't agree with her conclusions, I think her arguments are worth considering. ( )
  gmmoney | Sep 8, 2010 |
This book was worth the read. While in many ways it struggled with the burden of proof and lack of research into the field of memes, and as a result came across as a pseudo-scientific approach at debunking all sorts of current thinking, it is put together well and really walks the reader to the rather shocking conclusion. ( )
  librarythingaliba | Apr 21, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Blackmore, Susanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dawkins, RichardForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Greguss, FerencTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Niehaus-Osterloh, MonikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saarinen, OsmoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thomass, BalthasarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 019286212X, Paperback)

In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins proposed the concept of the meme as a unit of culture, spread by imitation. Now Dawkins himself says of Susan Blackmore:

Showing greater courage and intellectual chutzpah than I have ever aspired to, she deploys her memetic forces in a brave--do not think foolhardy until you have read it--assault on the deepest questions of all: What is a self? What am I? Where am I? ... Any theory deserves to be given its best shot, and that is what Susan Blackmore has given the theory of the meme.

Blackmore is a parapsychologist who rejects the paranormal, a skeptical investigator of near-death experiences, and a practitioner of Zen. Her explanation of the science of the meme (memetics) is rigorously Darwinian. Because she is a careful thinker (though by no means dull or conventional), the reader ends up with a good idea of what memetics explains well and what it doesn't, and with many ideas about how it can be tested--the very hallmark of an excellent science book. Blackmore's discussion of the "memeplexes" of religion and of the self are sure to be controversial, but she is (as Dawkins says) enormously honest and brave to make a connection between scientific ideas and how one should live one's life. --Mary Ellen Curtin

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:37 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Uniquely among animals, humans are capable of imitation and so can copy from one another ideas, habits, skills, behaviours, inventions, songs and stories. These are all memes, a term first coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976 at the end of his book The Selfish Gene. Like genes, memes are replicators, competing to get into as many brains as possible, and this memetic competition has fashioned our minds and culture, just as natural selection has designed our bodies. We are what the memes have made us: we are all of us meme machines. Can the analogy between memes and genes do useful work? Can it lead us to powerful new theories that actually explain anything important?This book ends by confronting the deepest questions of all about ourselves: the nature of the inner self, the part of us that is the centre of our consciousness, that feels emotions, has memories, holds beliefs and makes decisions. Susan Blackmore makes a compelling case that this inner self, the 'inner me', is an illusion, a creation of the memes for the sake of their own replication.… (more)

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