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Meme Culture and the Illusion of Free Will

Meme Culture and the Illusion of Free Will

According to Dawkins (2016), the meme culture is an inevitable response to cultural evolution. Memes may be transmitted from one person to another through imitation. A good example of cultural transmission through memes is through fashion trends. People tend to copy fashion trends from people they look up to or relate to. For instance, reggae lovers tend to maintain dreadlocks as an established culture. The culture has been passed across generations as successive generations pick the style as a way of connecting with the community of reggae lovers. Cultural transmission through memes is also expressed through behavior, style, and the way people conduct their daily transactions (Dawkins, 2016). Dawkin, therefore, implies that memes are cultural units that populate the mind and act as cultural genes. However, it is worth noting that culture is not the sole creator of culture. Economic and social factors also play a role in shaping culture.

Based on the concept of culture creation through memes, free will is an illusion. Human thoughts are a product of the laws that determine their memes (Hills, 2019). However, it is not possible for people to determine that their actions are a product of underlying memes. Another explanation that cements Dawkin’s position on free will is that people make spontaneous choices and decisions that surprise them and others. Although the metaphysical world is influenced by knowledge and current reality, there are still passive forces that influence actions even without noticing (Hills, 2019). Human behavior cannot, therefore, be explained by any knowledge set they have imbibed at any given moment. Apart from the memes that shape how humans behave, there are also economic, social, and historical factors that influence behavior. People are not always aware of these underlying influences.


Dawkins, R. (2016). The extended selfish gene. Oxford University Press.

Hills, T. T. (2019). Neurocognitive free will. Proceedings of the Royal Society B286(1908), 20190510.


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Meme Culture

Meme Culture

Is culture created by memes?
How does this affect how we look at free will (if memes have a role to play in this all)?

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