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Memetics and Related Evolutionary Approaches

We see the memetic approach as an evolutionary one. The principle of evolution by selection is best known from the natural selection theory developed by Darwin to explain evolution of biological organisms [10]. Dennett [15] calls this natural selection principle a universal acid: it is such a powerful concept that it bites through everything. Indeed, in this sense Darwin described only a special case of selection when he was dealing with biological evolution.

Evolutionary theories are applied in a wide variety of disciplines. As mentioned above, evolutionary theories are applied to culture, like in the work of Boyd and Richerson [1], Cavalli-Sforza [6] and Csanyi [9]. The evolution of language can be seen in analogy to biological evolution, as described by Hoenigswald and Wiener [20]. In computer sciences, genetic programming and genetic algorithms are descendants of the evolutionary view as well, for example in the work of several people at the Santa-Fe Institute (Holland [22], Kauffman [26]). Learning theories of humans, applied to individuals, groups and society can be tied to evolutionary theory, as shown in the work of Campbell [4, 5]. The work of several philosophers of science shows evolutionary views, as in Popper's [34] and Kuhn's [27] work. In addition, these views have impact on evolutionary epistemology, and are analogical to biological evolution. Evolutionary theories have been described to account for brain development by Gerald Edelman [17], and extended to the msec-to-minutes time scale of thought and action by William Calvin [2, 3].Evolutionary theory is present in the field of economy, often tied to the development of technology, as in the work of Nelson and Winter [30, 31] or to the evolution of institutions as in the work of Hodgson [19] and North [32].

We feel that this plethora of approaches proves the potential of evolutionary thought in all fields of human sciences. At the same time this means that there is ample opportunity to compare models of evolution, and their applications, which is one of the aims of our journal.

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