Tuesday, February 14, 2006


[evomech] Viva Lamarck: A Brief History of the Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics

[Cochrane, Aeon 2:2, '91]

A leading evolutionist recently observed that the great questions in evolutionary theory
remain much the same today as they were in Darwin’s time. Certainly this observation
applies to the debate over the inheritance of acquired characters, commonly known as
Lamarckism, after Jean Lamarck, author of the first systematic theory of evolution. The
debate over the reality of Lamarckian ideas has raged for the better part of a century and
a half and shows no signs of abating. Indeed, as I write, the controversy has been
rekindled over the announcement of new experiments allegedly supporting the possibility
of inheritance of acquired characters.

In an attempt to understand the historical background and theoretical significance of this
controversy we will offer here a brief outline of the history of the inheritance of acquired
characters. This outline will include a summary of Lamarck’s theory of evolution; an
assessment of the validity of its rejection by Weismann and Neo-Darwinism; and a
discussion of recent developments including the modern revival of the inheritance of
acquired characters by Steele and Gorczynski.

Full text at:



Model of an Internal Evolutionary Mechanism

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