Séminaire – Philosophie et Immunologie

Séminaire – Philosophie et Immunologie


La prochaine séance du séminaire Philosophie & Immunologie aura lieu le 13 mai à 12h à l’IHPST.

Nous aurons le plaisir d’écouter Hugues Bersini (Université libre de Bruxelles) pour une intervention intitulée :

L’immunologie est-elle trop centrée sur la notion d’antigène? L’héritage de Francisco Varela.

Le résumé est en anglais, mais la présentation sera faite en français.

Many years ago, a group of researchers led by Francisco Varela and Antonio Coutinho were proposing an alternative vision of the immune system main behavior and function. I was the computer scientist of this group, aiming at illustrating their position by a succession of software models. This new vision saw the immune system not as behaving distinctively according to any dichotomy imposed a priori and coming from the outside world (the self-recognition vision), but rather in a way largely defined from inside the system (the self-assertion vision). They plead for substituting a “linear-causality” with a “circular-causality” in which the meaning of a given antigen is governed by the complex interplay of the endogenous and exogenous contexts in which it appears. I will discuss why the set of the antigenic attributes is one part of the problem, the state and the history of the system since its appearance being the other key part and definitely not
something easy to discriminate upon. I will illustrate my position by means of very simple software models. Varela has impacted the numerous different scientific fields he was interested in by systematically substituting a linear way of thinking with a circular “ying yang” one. Beyond immunology, in cognitive sciences, he attacked again the importance of the external world in the representational capacity of cognitive systems (stressing for instance the importance of re-entrant connections in the brain). In assimilating minimal living organisms to autopoietic systems, he was the first to insist that the surrounding membrane should be endogenously produced by the elements and the reactions making up the network (for example lipids would come from the reactions of the network themselves) but would in return promotes the emergence and self-maintenance of the network. This cogeneration of the membrane and the metabolic network is a further instance of
this circular causality. And finally, he surprisingly rejected a bottom-up but defended instead a top-down circular vision of “emergent phenomena”, in which whatever emerges will do so because having a feedback influence on the non-linear relationships grounding the emerging phenomenon.

Lectures conseillées :




Lieu : IHPST, Grande salle,
13 rue du Four
2e étage
75006 Paris
(M°Mabillon ou Saint-Germain)

Détails sur le séminaire :