Lamarckism

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Abstract

From the early nineteenth century until the very present, Lamarckism is a term that has come to cover a broad spectrum of theoretical positions on the nature of evolution. It originally referred to the theories of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744–1829), which are briefly presented. From the 1820s until the early twentieth century, there were numerous explanations proffered, some of which were Lamarckian, for the succession of life forms, their history, their transformations, and their mechanisms of change; these explanations were disseminated not only through medical, biological, and natural history channels but also through wider cultural media. Scientific, cultural, and national contexts and styles formed and shaped modes of understanding, thus producing different images of Lamarck and Lamarckism. Nonetheless, there were certain features, succinctly posited, that served as a common foundation for that historical diversity. Lamarckism became unacceptable with the rise of the Modern Synthesis. However, new developments in present-day biology, particularly since the 1990s, make a Lamarckian perspective relevant to modern empirical and theoretical research and to problems in the philosophy of biology. Selection is still seen as crucial, but the nature, origins, construction, and inheritance of developmental variations are deemed to be just as important.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBrenner's Encyclopedia of Genetics
EditorsStanley Maloy, Kelly Hughes
Place of PublicationSan Diego
PublisherAcademic Press
Pages187-189
Number of pages3
EditionSecond Edition
ISBN (Electronic)9780080961569
ISBN (Print)9780123749840
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Change
  • Complexity
  • Development
  • Environment
  • Evolution
  • Inheritance
  • Lamarckist
  • Organism
  • Self-organization
  • Species
  • Variation

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