Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Worlds Before AdamThe Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Reform$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Martin J. S. Rudwick

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226731285

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226731308.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 July 2021

The specter of transmutation (1825–29)

The specter of transmutation (1825–29)

Chapter:
(p.237) Chapter 17 The specter of transmutation (1825–29)
Source:
Worlds Before Adam
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226731308.003.0018

Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck's transformist theory, according to which all organic forms were and always had been in a state of continuous flux in the direction of increasing complexity and perfection, continued to be attractive to some savants, but generally not to those who studied fossils. For the latter, Cuvier's concept of discrete species, each well adapted to a particular mode of life, remained far more persuasive, in part because it was also congruent with the widely held belief that the adaptations of organisms reflected an ultimately divine design. Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire gave the debate a new turn by suggesting that fossil species might have been transmuted into living ones under the pressure of severe environmental change, during the occasional drastic “revolutions” which most geologists inferred from the record of the rocks. He also claimed that this kind of transmutation could be seen in operation on a small scale as an actual cause, namely in the monstrosities generated during embryonic development by natural “accidents” (which could be replicated by human intervention).

Keywords:   transformism, de Lamarck, Georges Cuvier, Étienne Saint-Hilaire, fossils, environmental change

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.