On this day in 1829, Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Le Chavalier de Lamarck died penniless and blind in Paris. Lamarck is, of course, popularly remembered as the father of Lamarckism. But let us remember a few things – Darwin accepted “Lamarckism” (the inheritance of acquired characteristics) and Lamarck was an evolutionist at a time when the likes of Georges Cuvier were vehemently anti-evolution. Yes, he was wrong about spontaneous generation. Yes, he was wrong about the inheritance of acquired characteristics.
Yes, he was wrong as a teleologist. And perhaps he was wrong about the progressive nature of the fossil record. But he was a true evolutionist at a time where it was unpopular to be such. Perhaps the French are indeed right to see him as the “Fondateur de la doctrine de l’évolution.”