Lamarcks Influence Upon Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection

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There have been many ideas on the theory of evolution. Some simply take our

existence for granted, others prefer to explain all evolution in terms of the

bible and the presence of a God. However, there are those who have researched

the topic of evolution and have offered an explanation as to where a species

comes from and how they evolved in the manner that they did. This type of

science has been studied for a very long time, and one of the most famous

minds in the field of evolution was a man named Charles Darwin. Darwin was not

the first one to offer theories on evolution. There have been many scientists

who preceded him. These earlier evolutionists came up with models of evolution

that were unfortunately unworkable. One of these early pioneers was Jean-

Baptiste Lamarck. Lamarck believed in deism and advocated natural religion based

on human reason. He believed in the harmony and rationality of the world. And

although flawed, the work of Lamarck did not go unnoticed, however. Darwin also

believed in the harmony of the world, and it was Darwin himself who said that

Lamarck was the first man whose conclusions on evolution brought about

excitement and attention. He was the one who showed law in organic and inorganic

species evolution. As it turned out, the work of Lamarck was quite influential

on Darwin. Lamarck's views on inheritance of characteristics can be seen in

Darwin's accounts of natural selection. When Lamarck wrote of transmutation,

Darwin followed with his beliefs of the mutability of species. As well, Darwin

had used Lamarck's ideas on use and disuse of organs. Lamarck was not the

greatest of influences on Darwin, but he was an important one.

One of the most important arguments in Darwin's theories was the idea of natural

selection. It is generally thought that the world first heard of this idea in

the form of Lamarck's inheritance of acquired traits theory. Lamarck's work

showed that organisms improve themselves on their own. Then these new advantages

for the environment would be passed on to the species offspring on the genetic

level. This idea of self improvement detailed how, through hard work of the

organism, the path of evolution was continuous, always improving to the point of

perfection. Lamarck had said that organisms must first be faced with a different

mode of environment that would trigger some sort ...

... middle of paper ...

...use and disuse of internal structures

can be seen in the preliminary ground work of Darwin's theory of natural

selection, mutation of species and use and disuse of an organisms body parts.

Darwin had revolutionized the belief in evolution, and in doing so, he had

brought back some theories that were not all that popular when they were first

introduced. Great minds like Lamarck had influenced Darwin to show the world

where it originated, and how it progressed through the ages.


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Berkeley and California, 1988

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Press, New York, 1981

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