Re: Darwin and Lamarck

Guy A Lukes (
Thu, 06 May 1999 12:43:26 -0400

Date: Thu, 06 May 1999 12:43:26 -0400
From: Guy A Lukes <>
Subject: Re: Darwin and Lamarck

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>Ton Maas wrote:

>>I've said it before, but since this topic has crept up once again, I'd
>> to emphasize the fact that Gregory Bateson has been "defending" Lamarck
>> quite elegantly for many years. His position was that Lamarck's error
>> one of logical typing: the inheritance of acquired characteristics may
>> be true on the level of the individual organism, but it is most
>> true on the level of the population or gene pool.

>Ton, could you explain this in more detail, preferably with an example.

I am also interested in what Bateson means. So in the interest of
stimulating converstion I will post my own crude interpretation in the
hopes of stimulating a Bateson advocate to respond.

The logical typing that Batson seems to be talking about is the difference
between a structural bias (thermostat setting) and the adaptive change to
environmental perturbation (turning on the heater).
He sees genes as structure building instructions that set biases, while the
phenotypic adaptations to environmental changes are at a lower homeostatic
level of control.

One example of Lamarckian adaptation would be:
If a heating system is running all the time (because it doesn
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?t have the
power to maintain the bias setting) it could directly alter the structu=
building instructions to create an offspring which just runs all the ti=
without any homeostatic control. This would be a loss of flexibility in=
offspring and would probably eventually be a fatal adaptation.

It could also create an offspring that had a higher bias setting so tha=
the heater turns on less and maintains equilibrium at a cooler room
temperature. This could also be a fatal adaptation in a world where pe=
doesn?t always want to wear sweaters.

Conversely the agent could move its Lamarckism up one level and change =
own structure by supplementing its genetic instructions with instructio=
to allow it to create more heat ( consciousness?? without genetic

The agent could also move in with an attractive heating unit with gigan=
BTUs and produce offspring with a higher heating capacity increasing th=
population of more productive heating units. This models conscious??
control of evolutionary genetic transmission.




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