I'm trying to figure out whether the manifestation of ideas has been explored before. It's similar to Richard Dawkin's concept of memes, but I'm not quite sure if it is the same.

Suppose an individual has an idea pop into their mind. This can be considered the idea manifesting itself to an individual.

Then the individual writes it down in a book. The idea has manifested itself in the book.

The book convinces hundreds of people of the idea. The idea manifested itself to all of those people.

Suppose that the idea is about how the legal system should be. The idea manifests itself by being instantiated in law and permanently impacting society.

Alternatively, the idea is about going to war with another nation. The idea manifests itself as a war and also manifests itself as a permanent influence on the history of nations.

It seems to me that ideas can perform actions on the world by manifesting themselves. What would this be called? Has it been explored before?

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    An alternate approach may be through Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance and Fields: sheldrake.org/research/morphic-resonance/introduction – Frank Hubeny Aug 22 '19 at 20:12
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    Yes, and it is very old. Plato called it imitation (mimesis), of ideas by sensible things. Of course, the modern view is that ideas manifesting, popping into minds, etc., are just turns of phrase. Ideas do not really do anything, they do not even exist, they are just a shorthand way to talk about actions that do. – Conifold Aug 22 '19 at 20:34

This is very close to Dawkins' notion, except that he assumes this layer and theorizes that the manifesting ideas are like reproducing creatures, and that they may therefore have constituent parts corresponding to the genes that determine physical creatures. Those 'elementary sub-ideas' are the memes.

Daniel Dennett buys into the theory of memes, and is trying to build [a philosophically sound approach that includes it][1].

He is a hard-core materialist, so he often prefers to frame this in terms of sub-cultures and cultural evolution, talking about ideas 'being introduced' and 'transferring among groups'. But this is the same mechanism as your manifestation or Platonic 'participation' with the shared mind, but from a behaviorist POV.

  • what even is behaviorism? – another_name Aug 22 '19 at 20:41
  • The POV that it is pointless to discuss ideas or other cognitive events unless you can firmly tie the reported internal events to a pattern of external behavior. – user9166 Aug 22 '19 at 22:55
  • How can a 'hard core materialist' speak about ideas having an effect on the world? – PeterJ Aug 23 '19 at 11:31
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    @PeterJ If you cannot see that connection it is because of your own biases. Just because people look at things differently and describe them in different terms that does not make absolutely everything they have to say on every topic completely useless to one another. For instance, postmodernists notions of 'cultural evolution' and Platonic/psychoanalytic 'participation in the shared mind' cover the same set of objective facts (how expressed ideas travel) and can still shed light on one another. Your dislike of materialists just keeps you from giving a dam what they say. – user9166 Aug 23 '19 at 16:11
  • makes sense, thanks @jobermark – another_name Aug 23 '19 at 21:15

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