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kingpinlovesyou's avatar

Has memetics molded our moral beliefs?

Asked by kingpinlovesyou (312points) July 19th, 2011

Have our morals beliefs been molded by memetics?
Memetics is about the spread of ideas, ideas that successfully spread survive and ideas that fail to spread will die.
Ideas could die out not by us not being connived by them or changing our minds but also by us dying.
Believing in ideas that would allow us to die, or a chaotic society that would make it more likely for us to die, not just directly but also indirectly would not survive.
I will try to give terrible example to how this may explain why we think stealing is wrong something that would not directly allow us to die.
If we allowed maybe stronger people to steal our possessions such as food and other things that make our life easier, we would maybe find life harder and not survive.

I’m honestly looking for feed back on this idea to point out pros and cons to this idea

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7 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

What do you think religion is? Yes, memetics has an influence on our moral beliefs. Great question, too.

Thammuz's avatar

Obviously, yes.

Every idea shared by a big number of people has been a memetic success.

Bagardbilla's avatar

Sometimes, a majority simply means all the fools are on the same side!
So, no, I don’t believe memetics is something at play. With the advent of the written word, ideas survive beyond lifetimes and changes in morality. With the Internet, there is even greater hope of preservation and dissemination of ideas which have fallen out of favor.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Not all memes are that significant.

thorninmud's avatar

I don’t think that the underpinnings of our sense of morality are culturally inherited, but the specifics of what is and isn’t considered moral often are.

That we have a moral sense at all seems to be rooted in our neurological make-up. We have the innate capacity to experience the feelings of others as our own. Empathy, in it’s most rudimentary form, is hard-wired.

Memes can either reinforce our override that basic empathy. The idea, codified into law, that God wants fornicators stoned is apparently capable of causing ordinary people to feel justified in launching rocks at the head of a half-buried woman. Others who are not infected with that particular meme are horrified by this; it outrages our fundamental empathy. Some cultures feel morally justified in burning witches alive, all because of memes. But without the influence of that meme, seeing this happen is morally intolerable.

The memes behind such behavior have existed for a very long time, although it’s beyond me to identify how they have contributed to the fitness of those cultures. On the other hand, I’m reasonably confident that they will eventually fade from the scene, not because they’re supplanted by a stronger meme, but because those memes so outrage our innate moral sense.

Nullo's avatar

Meme pretty much are the ideas that we’ve been carrying around all these millennia.

kingpinlovesyou's avatar

This question is an absolute about all morals, if we are born innately with morals even if they can be overturned with memes, if those innate haven’t been affected by memes therefore that particular moral wasn’t molded by memes

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