Lamarck’s name itself, showing his Christian, French,
and aristocratic heritage, is symbolic of acquired
characteristics, which is ironic because we know that genetic
characteristics of children are not acquired by their parents
during their lives.
Using the development of a giraffe’s neck as an example of besoin
is ironic in light of the reason that Lamarck had to leave the
French army. Seventeen years old, having shown bravery and
leadership under fire in the Pomeranian War, he was promoted on
the spot to the rank of officer, whereupon one of his comrades
“playfully lifted him by the head,” causing
inflamation of the lymph nodes and a complicated and lengthy
Lamarck contributed to our theory of evolution two ideas
that are true:
Lamarck was one of the first to realize that evolution is
governed by natural laws, and his work gave us the first cohesive
theory of evolution.
Darwin’s concept of “survival of the fittest”
has eclipsed Lamarck’s concept of besoin. Natural
selection works without wants or needs; evolution is purely a
materialistic game of chance. Considered merely as a description
of evolutionary change, besoin is appealing. It is
appealing to consider a specie’s needs over time in its
successful adaption to a changing environment and competition.
However, besoin is romantic and ignores the fact that
evolutionary change doesn’t have a moral cause, that it does
not achieve progress toward a higher state, and that the
individual has no role in winning the race.
See also in The book of science:
Wikipedia has articles on both Lamarck and Lamarckism, his
theory of evolution:
The University of California at Berkeley compares the
theories of Lamarck and Darwin: