The Inheritance of “Acquired” Characters


MR. ARCHDALL REID in his previous letter said (p. 293) “innate characters arise inevitably as the child develops, whereas some acquirements are more or less rare, but this is only because the stimulus of nutriment is inevitably received, whereas the stimulus of a particular use or injury may not be received. If, however, the latter be received, the acquirement arises just as inevitably as the innate characters.” This latter statement seemed to me particularly incorrect for the reasons which I stated; and now Mr. Reid practically admits (p. 342) that it cannot be accepted as it stands, in face of the fact that the inherent tendencies of the germs of different human beings vary so much, and must therefore react variously to the stimulus of use.

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BASTIAN, H. The Inheritance of “Acquired” Characters . Nature 77, 390–391 (1908).

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