Jean Baptiste LaMarck

On this date in 1744, Jean Baptiste LaMarck was born in France, and later educated at the Jesuit College in Amiens. He left the seminary to join the Army and fight in Germany. After five years of service, he was injured and turned to the study of botany. LaMarck was appointed Royal Botanist in 1781. He became professor of invertebrate zoology at the Natural History Museum in 1793, and was the first to coin the word "invertebrate." LaMarck wrote Philosophie Zoologique (1809), proposing an early theory of evolution, a now-discredited but thoughtful theory on the inheritance of acquired traits. Darwin and others eventually hailed LaMarck, who died in obscurity and poverty, for doing the "eminent service of arousing attention to the probability of all changes in the organic, as well as in the inorganic world, being the result of law, and not of miraculous interposition." LaMarck was a Deist in the classical sense. D. 1829.

“All knowledge that is not the real product of observation, or of consequences deduced from observation, is entirely groundless and illusory.”

—-Jean Baptiste LaMarck, Systeme analytique des connaissances positive de l'homme, 1830 (posthumous publication)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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