Systême des animaux sans vertèbres, ou tableau général des classes, des ordres et des genres de ces animaux.
Paris: chez l'auteur et Deterville, 1801.
1st Edition. Hardcover. 8vo - over 7¾ - 9¾" tall. Very Good. Item #003248
8vo (198 x 122 mm). viii, 432 pp., including half-title, 8 letterpress tables (6 folding). Contemporary calf, plain spine with gilt-lettered morocco label and gilt decoration, boards with double fillet border, gilt-ruled board edges, red sprinkled edges, marbled endpapers (hinges expertly repaired). Little even browning internally, few pages slightly foxed, but generally quite crisp and clean. Provenance: Hôpital St. Pothin, Lyon (faint ink stamp on title-page and two text leaves), two pages with annotations in pencil. Very good copy. ----
Dibner 194; Garrison-Morton 215.5; Sparrow 122; Norman 1262. - FIRST EDITION, FIRST STATE (without leaf 402bis of "second eddition") of Lamarck's first published statement of his theory of evolution, the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Lamarck's first public presentation of his theory of evolution was in his opening discourse for his course on invertebrates at the museum in 1800; it was published the following year at the beginning of his Système des animaux sans vertèbres. The evolutionary views sketched in the discourse leave much to be desired in terms of organization and explanation. They are, however, very much a part of a total view of nature, many aspects of which Lamarck had long accepted... In the two branches of living organisms, Lamarck pointed out the 'degradations' in structural organization of the larger classificatory groupings or 'masses' as one moved down the series from the most complex to the simplest... Nature, after having formed the simplest animals and plants directly, produced all others from them with the aid of time and circumstance. In 1800 Lamarck did not explain how spontaneous generation occurred or how unlimited time and varied circumstances produced all other organisms. He did suggest that, for animals, changing circumstances and physical needs led to new responses which eventually produced new habits; these habits tended to strengthen certain parts or organs through use. Gradually new organs or parts would be formed as acquired modifications were passed on through 'reproduction' (DSB).
Lamarck had first presented his theory of 'evolution' (a term not yet used in this context) in the opening discourse of his course on invertebrates at the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris in 1800. First printed in the present work, the 48-page Discours d'ouverture contains Lamarck's first statement of his theory of the inheritance of acquired characteristics, and of his idea of the progressive process of species differentiation, from the simplest to the most complex. The Systeme represented a definite advance in zoological classification. In it Lamarck 'separated spiders and crustaceans from insects, and classified worms into truer categories than had Linne. He separated animals into vertebrates and invertebrates, introducing the latter term' (Dibner). - Visit our website to see more images!
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