Stranger Fruit

On this day …


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’√©volution.”


  1. #1 John Wilkins
    December 28, 2006

    One minor nit: Darwin’s “Lamarckism” consisted in the view that variants that were used would be more frequently inherited, and those that were not would not be. This is not the same thing as inheritance of acquired characteristics, which in any case wasn’t unique or original to Lamarck.

  2. #2 Mike Kaspari
    December 28, 2006

    Lamark is indeed one of the founders of evolutionary biology. He produced a plausible and testable hypothesis that caught the public’s imagination and pushed the discipline forward. If we drop every predecessor from our ranks who’s scientific hypothesis was proven wrong….

  3. #3 Bruce Thompson
    December 28, 2006

    If Lamark were alive today I wonder what his Blog would look like and who would frequent the site and comment?

  4. #4 John
    February 17, 2007

    Thought this was interesting.

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