Article ID: CBB508803217

The Evolutionary Thought of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (2021)

unapi

The name Lamarck is very well known in the teaching of biology, being associated with an early effort to explain evolution. Nevertheless, when evolution is taught in the classroom, the only Lamarckian ideas that stand out are related to the ‘inheritance of acquired characters’, invariably illustrated by the example of the lengthening of giraffes’ necks, as a way of contrasting Lamarckian ideas with Darwinian natural selection. Our aim here is to argue that there are other important ideas in Lamarck’s work that are directly related to the origin and transformation of species. These concepts, causal explanations of organic nature, can be taught to students who are learning about the sources and development of evolutionary thought and will moreover provide the student with properly justified reasons as to why Lamarck’s explanation is considered to be the first wide-ranging and well-argued explanation of biological evolution. The Lamarckian concepts that we consider important for teaching evolutionary thought are the following: (1) the species as an arbitrary concept, directly related to the Lamarckian concept of the continuous transformation of species, (2) the ancestor–descendant relationship, and organic diversification from a common plan of organisation to a branching series, (3) gradual change, related to changes in environmental conditions, and (4) the controversy concerning the origin of life (that is, having either a natural cause or a divine origin), life’s transformation, and the natural origin of human beings, including our moral capacity, subjects which were related to Lamarck’s other political and philosophical interests.

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Authors & Contributors
Corsi, Pietro
Gissis, Snait B.
Loison, Laurent
Gershenowitz, Harry
Stamos, David N.
Grimoult, Cédric
Journals
Asclepio: Archivo Iberoamericano de Historia de la Medicina
Revue de Synthèse
Indian Journal of History of Science
Biology and Philosophy
Perspectives on Science
Filosofia e História da Biologia
Publishers
Vuibert
University of California Press
Bréal
Wiley-Blackwell
The MIT Press
University of Calgary (Canada)
Concepts
Evolution
Biology
Philosophy of biology
Lamarckism
Zoology
Inheritance
People
Lamarck, Jean Baptiste Antoine Pierre de Monet de
Darwin, Charles Robert
Buffon, Georges Louis Leclerc de
Cuvier, Georges
Napoleon I, Emperor of France
Linnaeus, Carolus
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century
20th century, early
20th century, late
21st century
Places
France
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