In this culture, medical thought is fully engaged in the philosophical status of
man.—michel foucault, The Birth of the Clinic
Science projects are civics projects; they remake citizens.
—donna haraway, Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan©_
The choice of explanations in medicine is always a choice of values.
—lawrence kirmayer, “Mind and Body as Metaphors”
Opening Up a Few Concep
Introductory rumInatIon
The Vital Matter of Defense
In his memoirs, Élie Metchnikoff fondly recalls the mundane even
which precipitated his discovery in 1881 of immunity as a form of biolo
cal self-defense:
One day when the whole family had gone to a circus to see some extraordina
performing apes, I remained alone with my microscope, observing the life
the mobile cells of a transparent star-fish larva, when a new thought sudden
flashed across my brain. It struck me that similar cells might serve in the defe
of the organism against intruders. . . . I said to myself that if my supposition w
true, a splinter introduced into the body of a star fish larva, devoid of blood v
sels or a nervous system, should soon be surrounded by mobile cells as is to
observed in a man who runs a splinter into his finger. This was no sooner sa
than done.
There was a small garden to our dwelling . . . [and] I fetched from it a few ro
thorns and introduced them at once under the skin of the beautiful star-fi
larvae as transparent as water.
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