Khitruk Ekaterina

Thinking of a human in the context of the memetic theory of religion: from the “image and likeness” to the “vehicle”

Khitruk Ekaterina (2022) "Thinking of a human in the context of the memetic theory of religion: from the “image and likeness” to the “vehicle” ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia. Religiovedenie, 2022, vol. 101, pp. 118-135 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI2022101.118-135


The article is devoted to the study of the idea of a human in the context of the modern memetic theory of religion. The work consistently reveals the main provisions of the memetic concept in the works of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Susan Blackmore. Richard Dawkins is regarded as the founder of the replicator-centric interpretation of the evolutionary process, which contributed to the formation of the idea of the meme as a unit of cultural information. Memes compete with each other in the process of cultural evolution, pursuing their own benefits, regardless of the possible benefits of host organisms. To such "selfish" memes, R. Dawkins, first of all, refers to religious ideas. R. Dawkins' concept has a popular scientific character and its author, considering a person to be a bearer of memes, does not clarify the ways of interaction between specific memes and the human mind. This philosophical aspect of the memetic concept is developed in the theory of Daniel Dennett, who, distracting from the scientific (biological) context, builds a naturalistic metanarrative based on the concept of memes. D. Dennett argues that the human mind is not only an effective means of transportation for memes, but also literally an artifact created in the process of memetic evolution and acquired, thanks to it, a tendency to select and prefer certain (evolutionarily successful) types of memes ... Such an interpretation of man is consolidated in the psychological theory of S. Blackmore, who asserts that the theory of memes finally and convincingly debunks both the religious ideas about the free and autonomous personality of God, who is responsible for the existence of the world, and the traditional ideas about the free and autonomous personality of man, who is responsible both for his own existence in general, and, in particular, for the morally significant decisions of their lives. S. Blackmore proposes to consolidate the new concept of a person as a vehicle with appropriate psychological techniques that get rid of the "false" feelings of their own autonomy and freedom. The author of this article considers the memetic concept of religion, culture and man as a non-trivial version of classical naturalism and suggests the possible productivity of criticism of this concept based on the unique Christian interpretation of personality as irreducibility to nature.


evolution, meme, memetics, atheism, Christianity, human philosophy, philosophy of religion, Christian anthropology


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Information about the author

Khitruk Ekaterina

Academic Degree: Doctor of Sciences* in Philosophy;
Place of work: Tomsk State University; Tomsk, Russia;
Post: Professor;
ORCID: 0000-0002-2522-3070;
Email: lubomudreg@gmail.com.

*According to ISCED 2011, a post-doctoral degree called Doctor of Sciences (D.Sc.) is given to reflect second advanced research qualifications or higher doctorates.