Sunday, June 11, 2006

Confusing an instance for the concept - in review of memes book

The other day I came across this negative review of the book on memes ‘Thought Contagion’ by Aaron Lynch. The review's main criticism is this: the book is far too freewheeling with the concept of memes, using it make fairly superficial explanations or anything and everything.

But the problem is, while the criticism is really about the book, and how it uses the concept of memes, the review presents the criticism as being of the notion of memes itself. But the review doesn't actually present any criticism of the notion of memes, beyond problems with the nature of Lynch’s particular account of them.

In other words, what the review does is confuse a particular theory of memes with the notion of memes. You could say that it's confusing an instance of a concept for the concept itself. I believe this kind of mistake is very common, though showing other examples is something for later.

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