One specific and particularly intriguing example of these differences in the content of the natural science of the 1800s due to social class and ideological inclination is the contrast in the description of natural selection by Alfred Russel Wallace with natural selection as described by Darwin.
These hopes for a better future via Lamarckian adaptations were predicated on alterations of current environments, which in turn required sweeping social and political changes. As such, Lamarckism became a fundamental aspect of many of the rationalist (i.e., secular) progressive reform movements of the mid-1800s...
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck has had as much an impact on the political history of the modern world as any biologist, perhaps save Darwin—but, notably, much of this impact is based on misunderstandings and misinterpretations of Lamarck’s actual theory of evolution.
While there are aspects of Lamarckism and contemporary epigenetics which do pertain to each other, there are substantial differences between them. Contemporary epigenetics is also not inconsistent with Darwinian natural selection, and is properly a subset of conventional genetics. Thus, the guilt-by-association intended by this association of epigenetics with Lamarckism is both misleading and not an accurate description of either.
My name is Shea Robison. (Follow me on Twitter at @EpigeneticsGuy and see my academic profile at Academia.edu) As is well known, Darwin’s theory of evolution presented fundamental challenges to many of the prevailing core beliefs and values of the mid-1800s. These fundamental ontological challenges account for the significant scientific and ecclesiastical opposition which greeted the publication of On … Continue reading The Reception of Epigenetics: More like Mendel or Darwin?