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From: "Kevin J. Maroney" <kmaroney@crossover.com>
Subject: Re: (urth) Lamarckism Explained
Date: Thu, 21 Jan 1999 12:18:55 

At 10:27 AM 1/20/99 -0500, Dave wrote:
>The orthogonal push of
>environmental pressure (and we don't seem to be talking about "natural
>selection", but something else) produces variations on the basic theme, so
>we get bears and hippos and moles and squirrels once we have mammals.
>It is possible that what Wolfe is interested in in Lamarck is the
>"increasing complexity" factor, which to my mind allows the idea of
>progressive evolution rather than chance mutation and adaptation.  

I don't understand Lamarck well; as Gould points out, what is taught in
schools as Lamark is actually a cruel caricature, much closer to Lysenko.
But I think that what appealed to George Bernard Shaw about Lamarck was the
sense that evolution was driven by *striving*, rather than by chance--that
evolutionary change occurs in those creatures which move to the limits of
their physical capacity and then "discover" that they can move slightly

As you point out, there is also very clearly a sense of "progress" in
Lamarck which Darwin explicitly rejected. In fact, the word "evolution"
itself has an implicit sense of progress in it (at least as it was used in
the 19th century), which lead Darwin to avoid it. His term for the process
was "modification through descent". 

Wombat, a.k.a. Kevin Maroney kmaroney@crossover.com
Kitchen Staff Supervisor, New York Review of Science Fiction

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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