Re: Darwin and Lamarck

Ton Maas (
Mon, 3 May 1999 09:32:35 +0200

Message-Id: <v03102801b352fe95abeb@[]>
In-Reply-To: <>
Date: Mon, 3 May 1999 09:32:35 +0200
From: Ton Maas <>
Subject: Re: Darwin and Lamarck

Chris wrote:
>"Epigenesis,......,in fact quite ancient in biology, has been
>underappreciated in the recent past for ideological reasons
>anti-'vitalist' phobias), but it continues to be an indispensable

Excuse me for stepping in out of the blue, but hasn't the term epigenesis
been coined by Conrad Waddington?

"Epigenesis is the word preferred by C.H. Waddington for his central field
of interest, whose old name was embryology. It stresses the fact that every
embryological step is an act of _becoming_ (Greek genesis) which must be
built _upon_ (Greek epi) the immediate status quo ante. Characteristically
Waddington was contemptuous of conventional information theory, which
allowed nothing, as he saw it, for the "new" information he felt was
generated at each stage of epigenesis. Indeed, according to conventional
theory, there is no new information in this case." (Bateson, Mind & Nature)

I've said it before, but since this topic has crept up once again, I'd like
to emphasize the fact that Gregory Bateson has been "defending" Lamarck
quite elegantly for many years. His position was that Lamarck's error was
one of logical typing: the inheritance of acquired characteristics may not
be true on the level of the individual organism, but it is most certainly
true on the level of the population or gene pool.



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