Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was a biological visionary, the first biologist to articulate a comprehensive theory of organic evolution that claimed that all the different forms of life on earth had been successively developed from the simplest to the most complex. Though he is famous for promoting the idea of the inheritance of acquired characters, his theory of evolution was much broader than that. This chapter explores Lamarck’s evolutionary theorizing and relates it to multiple factors, including his penchant for constructing broad, explanatory systems and his switch into a new position and field – professor of invertebrate zoology at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle in Paris – midway through his career.
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