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Jean-Baptiste Lamarck
18.06.2021 Pietro Corsi
Nature
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck

More quoted than read, hailed as a prophet or vilified as a confused mind, Lamarck remains an enigmatic figure in the history of evolution theories. A reading of his entire corpus reveals a naturalist who considered himself as a physicist and a natural philosopher, rivalling the great materialistic synthesis of the Enlightenment. 

Properties of an eternal matter and eternally active physical laws could explain the indefinite cycles of the Earth as well as the working of the nervous fluids, capable of producing all our emotional and intellectual life. Even religious ideas resulted from the operations of our brain. His reference to the giraffe stretching its neck to reach leaves occurs only three times in thousands of pages. What he was really concerned with was the explanation of the taxonomic tree in terms of non-linear modifications gradually brought forth by extremely slow changes in the geo-climatic environment. To him, Nature was a blind, patient and constantly active set of laws deprived of all intention or goal.

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