Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an evolutionary doctrine proposed by A. Weismann in the 1880’s and 1890’s, during the initial period of the formulation of genetic science.

Neo-Darwinism is based on two hypotheses: the continuity of the germ plasm and germ selection. The first hypothesis states that there exists a continuous, potentially “immortal” germ plasm that is modified primarily as a result of the combination of parental germ cells. Germ selection extends the principle of natural selection to hypothetical heriditary units, called determinants, within the germ cells. New life forms arise by virtue of the selection of determinants. It is postulated that the uneven distribution of determinants in the offsprings’ germ cells is suggestive of the determinants’ having emerged from a struggle within the parents’ germ cells. Darwinian natural selection is viewed as a check on unfit forms that arise in the process of germ selection.

Correct in its rejection of the inheritance of acquired traits, neo-Darwinism emphasizes the mosaicism of an organism’s tissues and the independent nature of the occurrence of modifications in individual traits over the course of evolution. Weismann’s ideas on the inertness, conservation, and fragmentation of hereditary matter, and on the role of independent hereditary units in the determination of individual traits were subsequently proved to be fruitful working hypotheses that eventually were developed in the science of modern genetics. However, Weismann’s view, an attempt to both link the findings of the new science of genetics with the older theories of evolution and to supplement Darwin’s idea of natural selection, turned out to be for the most part erroneous.

The term “modern Darwinism,” that is, a synthesis of population genetics and classical Darwinism, is sometimes used interchangeably with “neo-Darwinism.” This is a misuse of terms that is unfortunate and incorrect from a historical point of view.


Wallace, A. R. Darvinizm: Izlozhenie teorii estestvennogo podbora, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1911. (Translated from English.)
Weismann, A. Lektsii po evoliutsionnoi teorii. St. Petersburg, 1918. (Translated from German.)
Shmal’gauzen, I. I. Problemy darvinizma, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
The new EES alternatives to neo-Darwinism are not theistic, but the opening up of evolutionary theory to embrace the fundamental complexity of biological systems may very likely contain pointers to the majesty of God's creation, including the diversity of life on Earth.
The data suggest students readily revert to previously held models during problem-solving and when developing explanations about occurrences, even though they have previously demonstrated an acceptance and understanding of neo-Darwinism. This illustrates the persistence of students' naive conceptual models.
Because of that, the YEC position should be explicitly rejected and denounced by all people, especially anyone who wants to be an intellectually and ethically responsible opponent of Darwinism and neo-Darwinism.
A growing body of scientific critics of neo-Darwinism point to evidence of design (e.g., biological structures that exhibit specified complexity) that, in their view, cannot be explained in terms of a purely contingent process and that neo-Darwinians have ignored or misinterpreted.
Finally, the essays on biological complexity, evolutionary convergence, design and neo-Darwinism, are solid representations of the standard positions and responses on the subject, giving a good overview of the issues.
In this stellar work, Gould, who died recently, explains 19th-century Darwinism, and the neo-Darwinism that has evolved during the past 50 years or so.
For background, Flake assumes only a basic knowledge of computation; when the discussion calls for other prerequisites, he gives short descriptions (for example, calculus, Lisp, linear algebra, control theory, neo-Darwinism).
According to a modern version sometimes described as neo-Darwinism, evolution can take place in very small steps, each of which has the system in a state of effective and inheritable operation.
Instead of focussing on these tricky historical and sociological issues, Fukuyama steps sideways in the second half of the book, and provides us with a fascinating but very abstract discussion of the roots of social order, drawing on ideas from sociology, political science, game theory and neo-Darwinism. Following the Enlightenment philosophers, he sees order as based on both Human Reason and Human Nature: social life is partly self-interested calculation and partly the outcome of innate human sociality.
To clarify this criticism further: an analogous argument arises in defenses of neo-Darwinism. If the neo-Darwinist evolutionary theorist sees gaps in the fossil record in a certain line of speciation that would seem to falsify the Darwinian claim of continuous (small, incremental) variation, all the neo-Darwinist has to say is that missing fossils may be in that part of the fossil record that we do not have, or that we may never have, thus allowing him or her to maintain the Darwinian claim of continuous variation at all cost.
Is Not Forever," "Neo-Darwinism," and "Confronting Ethnomania." The chapter on "ethnomania" attacks the ethnocentrism and racism that make excessive claims for the accomplishments of one or other ethnic group and have contributed so much to the viciousness of recent, often genocidal, ethnic clashes.