An Evolutionary View of Science: Imitation and Memetics

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Kantorovich, Aharon
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preprint description
Scientific thought is characterized in general as methodical and rational. I would like to present here an opposing view which treats science as a non-systematic activity, where serendipity, tinkering and imitation, rather than so-called rational thought, characterizes it. All these kinds of acts, which are considered to be a-rational, are related to an evolutionary view of science. I will deal here with a version of evolutionary epistemology as applied to science, integrated with the concept uf "meme". Richard Dawkins, who coined the term "meme", treats memes as units of information which propagate in the meme-pool by leaping from brain to brain. The way that memes (ideas) replicate is through imitation. Examples for this phenomenon in science are illustrated by some historical cases. In particular, I will deal with the evolution of theories of "internal symmetries" in particle physics. Memetics is the counterpart of genetics in the cultural arena. In its application to science, it deals with the manner memes/ideas spread in scientific communities