[xmca] Lamarckian

From: <mark who-is-at ias-group.com>
Date: Thu Oct 25 2007 - 23:55:17 PDT

I discovered a very small yet, very enlightening piece of information today
while reading Cultural Psychology A Once and Future Discipline. In Chapter 7
p. 178 part 2, Cole writes that Phylogenetic (Darwinism) change and
cultural-historical (Lamarckian) change occur at different rates.

I graduated from York University in Toronto, Canada with two degrees, in
Chemistry and in Biology, specializing in genetics and biochemistry. I am no
stranger to Darwinism, and I was not a fan of Lamarckian. My thinking at
that time was that natural selection 'survival of the fittest' or as Gould
wrote, 'the survival of the most adapted' was based on Darwin's theory of
evolution and our creation of tools such as computers was to compensate for
our own inability to genetically pass on our own acquired knowledge.
Lamarckian theories to us geneticists was nothing more to us than a
disproved theory that acquired knowledge could be passed on genetically. We
all knew that the study of our ancestry through genetics could be done by
examining the development of the fetus as it passes through the various
stages of growth. Each stage of growth represented the past of our genetics.

This of course brings into arguments such as the recent comments from the
discoverer of the DNA helix, as Gould points out in his book Before Darwin
(sorry the date of that book escapes me at this point), one of the quotes is
in Cole's book p.18. There were actually 2 quotes in Gould's book about the
genetic history of the races and they were both on opposite ends of the

My initial reaction to Cole's comment on p. 179 was one of surprise, since I
had never thought that of Lamarck in that light. It cleared up the
cultural-historical picture for me. But on the other hand, that the change
between genetic and cultural-historical occur at different rates is of
course true, but unlike other species, we can produce the tools to
genetically share our DNA's information (i.e. our research, our thinking).
It's hard to imagine if one influences the other vs if one is a result of
the other. I would think that the sum of the genetic make up of our being -
influences the tools we make to extend our DNA outward in the Lamarckian
sense. How we use those tools culturally I don't think has any bearing on
our genetic development (at least not in the short term). Phylogenetic
change has directly influenced our cultural-historical changes, but I think
the tools that have had the most effect on our development are the ones
which have allowed collaboration to occur. I think Lamarckian may have more
influence on what happens next culturally. And at a much faster rate. Our
external DNA is becoming more complicated!

Am I on the right track here? If so, I think I'm beginning to understand
Vygotsky just a little bit more.


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Received on Fri Oct 26 00:06 PDT 2007

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