On Memes

A Brief Introduction to Memetica, or a Contemporary Rhetoric of Information


  • Benjamin Bennett-Carpenter Oakland University and Sollars & Associates


meme, memes, information, rhetoric, Bit, signs, semiotics, biosemiotics, philosophy


As is widely known, memes are commonly understood as catchy items on social media – often an image with text – that “goes viral” and gets shared/spread among many people online.  However, this article discusses the older, original, and more expansive sense of “meme”, introduced and elaborated upon by Dawkins, Blackmore, and Dennett, among others, that initially means something like a “unit of cultural information.”  One way rhetorically and philosophically these days to conceive of “it all” is as a massive ecology of memes.  What I call “memetica” is another way of exploring a rhetoric and conception of a totalizing ecology of information.  The term “information” generally is ambiguous and may cover a massive amount of multi- and cross-disciplinary conceptual territory involving, for example, “bits” in physics, “genes” in biology, and “signs” in human sciences, humanities, and arts.  This article briefly introduces the origins, rhetoric, and concept of memes as an initial way in to the topic of information – arguably one of the most powerful, dynamic concepts in contemporary existence.


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How to Cite

Bennett-Carpenter, B. (2023). On Memes: A Brief Introduction to Memetica, or a Contemporary Rhetoric of Information. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 19(1), 158–192. Retrieved from https://cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/view/1091