Jean-Baptiste Lamarck: Biological Visionary

Richard W Burkhardt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was a biological visionary, the first biologist to articulate a comprehensive theory of organic evolution that claimed that all the different forms of life on earth had been successively developed from the simplest to the most complex. Though he is famous for promoting the idea of the inheritance of acquired characters, his theory of evolution was much broader than that. This chapter explores Lamarck’s evolutionary theorizing and relates it to multiple factors, including his penchant for constructing broad, explanatory systems and his switch into a new position and field – professor of invertebrate zoology at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle in Paris – midway through his career.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences
EditorsOren Harman, Michael R Dietrich
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780226570075
ISBN (Print)9780226569901, 9780226569871
StatePublished - 2018


  • Jean-Baptiste Lamarck
  • zoology
  • evolution
  • inheritance of acquired characters
  • Muséum d’histoire naturelle


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