Singularity and Uniqueness: Why Is Our Immune System Subject to Psychological and Cognitive Traits?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Immunologists use psychological and cognitive terms to describe and explain the behavior of our immune system. Do they use them metaphorically or literally? In this paper, I show that on the grounds of panenmentalist psychophysical assumptions, the uniqueness of each person (or self) as an individual organism necessarily corresponds to the singularity of each person as a psychological subject, which is a singular individual pure possibility. On the basis of these assumptions, immunologists, irrespective of their various conceptual frames, are entitled to ascribe psychological and cognitive traits to our immune system and its behavior. Immunologists are allowed to do so because each immune system of any higher, unique individual organism corresponds to psychological traits, which are ascribable only to persons, each of whom is a singular being. This correspondence is necessarily compatible with the psychophysical unity or inseparability. Furthermore, the psychological or cognitive traits pertain to the immune system require no consciousness. In the case of artificial immune systems, in contrast, the application of psychological or cognitive terms is only metaphorical, for each such system is not unique but it is replicable. Only the immune system of unique individual organisms that, as psychological subjects, are singular beings—i.e., persons—can be subject, literally or non-metaphorically, to psychological and cognitive terms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSynthese Library
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages26
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameSynthese Library
ISSN (Print)0166-6991
ISSN (Electronic)2542-8292

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • History
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Logic


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