Jean Piaget's Early Critique of Mendelism: 'La notion de l'espèce suivant l'école mendélienne' (A 1913 Manuscript)

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 14 (1):113 - 135 (1992)
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Abstract

In 1913, the future psychologist and epistemologist Jean Piaget (1896-1980), then a seventeen-year-old naturalist, gave a talk criticizing 'the notion of the species according to the Mendelian school'. In it, he confounded Mendelism and mutationism, and misunderstood both. He attributed an environmental nature to the 'factors' postulated by Mendel's laws for inherited characteristics, and thought that mutations resulted from the appearance of a new environmental factor. Such misinterpretations are closely related to Piaget's assimilation of the Bergsonian critique of 'mechanistic' science into his work in malacological taxonomy

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Fernando Vidal
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

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