Ask A Genius 363 – Platonic Forms and Ideas, Memes and Archetypes
May 22, 2018
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What about dissociation of memes defined insofar as they might be considered in the context of Platonic Forms and Ideas?
Rick Rosner: All right so, Platonic Ideas and Forms are the idea that there are in-built structures in reality itself. The Forms exist kinda in a space, an abstract space, beyond everyday experience. They exist within that space because of their perfection.
You have the Platonic solids, which are geometrically perfect. It’s why it is composed of 4 perfect prime equilateral triangles along with 6 edges of equal length and a cube is 6 perfect sides, along 12 edges of equal length, and so on.
They’re perfect forms, the Ideas (or Forms). Numbers are Platonic in their simplicity and unity. The “2” is a much more Platonic number that “2.7349,” but it has a unitary existence and utility, expression.
I would argue that non-contradictory Gorms are more likely to exist in the world. That these are ridiculous examples. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is still on the air, close to twenty years after it first premiered; it is still broadcast in probably more than 80 countries, in more than 80 versions.
Because Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? isn’t a non-contradictory structure. One person trying to answer questions. The audience wants for that person to win; it’s a really simple structure. Once you get past all of the other game shows compared to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.
There were other shows that were annoying, which had the flavor of Big Brother meets a quiz show; where the players can band together to eliminate at the end of each round, it is supposed to be the person is supposed to be the weakest link in the Weakest Link.
It never turns out to be the weakest link. The person who’s worst at answering questions is never the one who’s eliminated. It’s always the person who’s best at answering questions, because that person is a threat to everybody else.
So, the show didn’t work. It was contradictory because the best people and people you wanted to root for always got kicked out. It always came down to two having to choose between the final players, who were always two or three dickheads who managed to survive by voting dickishly.
So, it was a contradictory show; a show where you want to root for the best people, but the best people never made it. That made it a harder show to watch. It’s not on the air anymore. It’s not in agreement with itself, and with the principles of what makes T.V. good and people wanting to cheer for the right people.
So, simple Forms agree with themselves and don’t contradict themselves, so are better able to survive in the world, you see simple ideas that are based on simple Forms, like unawareness or the idea of oneness as things. On everything that is a thing.
Or that one is the simplest number, expressing the number of things. Two things like that. You’ve got one thing. The idea that things exist in discrete numbers, counting numbers one, two, three, and four.
That’s a convenient and non-contradictory way of being in the world, but then there is one apple. It is not one and a half apples, sometimes, or 1.2 apples; it takes a special set of circumstances to not be able to determine a oneness of a single apple. So, you’re drunk, or the apple is seven hundred yards away and you can’t see if it’s one apple or a couple apples, but in most contexts a single apple is a single apple, in a straightforward way.
So, the idea of distinct, discrete quantities. If these quantities are consistent over time, all these are non-contradictory properties as opposed to a frickin apple That’s one apple some of the time and zero apple some of the time and 4 apples rarely, but still some of the time.
So, archetypes are simple Forms; archetypes, stereotypes, and memes are things that tend to have some durability in the world because they are simple. In the case of memes, they can be clever. They can be simple expressions of a more complicated thing, the way words are often.
So, they have handiness, when a word or a meme is expressed as a Form or describes a Form that is itself durable and in the world, because itself is non-contradictory. That utility makes things like archetypes and memes survive culturally.
Like a meme or a concept that says, “Jocks are so much smarter than people who are not,” because in sports you have to think about so many different situations. So, your thinking can get better. That, as a concept, nobody’s ever heard that concept.
That’s not an archetype. The archetype is dumb jocks, because jocks who are physically impressive, stereotypically, don’t have to be that smart because they get by on their physical beauty and fitness and perfection.
It’s jocks versus nerds throughout evolution. So, the idea that I have found when I first started to try to have a relationship. I was having a bad time in my first relationship. My first, super hardcore, big time relationship when I was like 22.
23, I didn’t know how to navigate this relationship. I would turn to my jock friends, who’ve been dating since junior high school, because they were popular in junior high school and had some insight to give me because they’ve been dating for eight years.
Whereas, I’d only been dating for a couple years. They’d had relationships and stuff, but the idea that jocks are full of wisdom is not an archetype or a meme. Because, the idea of a dumb jock is much more consistent with the dynamics of the world, the statistical tendencies of the social world.
The more frequently occurring version of the world where under evolution when traditions are stable; it’s the dumb, physically perfect organisms that are successful at reproducing. It’s all the flawed geeky organisms who are forced to have to come up with different strategies.
They are the only ones to rise to the occasion of reproducing when things are in flux and this requires perhaps more thinking or flexibility in behavior. Those under what you think of as traditional evolution: jocks are dumb and adapted, and geeks are smart.
When in situations where you are having to survive on the margins via developed cleverness, so I don’t believe that archetypes are embedded in our brain, via evolution; they arise culturally, because they reflect common occurrences or properties, ditto for memes.
But archetypes and memes exist within a realm of cultural evolution rather than biologically. So, you could probably, if you really searched, you could find exceptions to that. For the most part, you might find a population of crabs that have lives of weird behavior.
You don’t know why they do this thing, but then you study them for 2 years. You find out that it’s this behavior, this thing, they do with their claws, that looks ritualistic or perhaps even like a tick, or an O.C.D. thing in crabs.
It turns out to serve a function or at least historically served a function. It kinda got embedded in their thinking. I’d buy that that’s a fact that happened. But I don’t think it’s that kinda thing, a general thing.
In general, our brains are super flexible. They embrace cultural efficiencies as they’re exposed to them. As people, as we’re animals, and as we grow up. So, that’s enough of that.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
 Four format points for the session article:
- Bold text following “Scott Douglas Jacobsen:” or “Jacobsen:” is Scott Douglas Jacobsen & non-bold text following “Rick Rosner:” or “Rosner:” is Rick Rosner.
- Session article conducted, transcribed, edited, formatted, and published by Scott.
- Footnotes & in-text citations in the interview & references after the interview.
- This session article has been edited for clarity and readability.
For further information on the formatting guidelines incorporated into this document, please see the following documents:
- American Psychological Association. (2010). Citation Guide: APA. Retrieved from http://www.lib.sfu.ca/system/files/28281/APA6CitationGuideSFUv3.pdf.
- Humble, A. (n.d.). Guide to Transcribing. Retrieved from http://www.msvu.ca/site/media/msvu/Transcription%20Guide.pdf.
License and Copyright
In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com and www.rickrosner.org.
© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Rick Rosner, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Rick Rosner, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.