Medicine Studies

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 29–39

On the Normativity of the Immune System



In the 1940s, Georges Canguilhem has established the concept of biological normativity on the level of the organism in his key work on “The Normal and the Pathological”. We would like to present a contemporary analysis of Canguilhem’s work, set it in context with more recent results from the field of complexity and immunology, and evaluate the problematic whether normativity is a genuine capacity of the organism. Based on Canguilhem’s conditions of the definition of biological normativity, we show that the immune system as one of the complex systems of the living equally shares the capacity to be normative. We will then conclude that normativity can also be conceptually independently displayed on the level of complex systems of the living.


Immunological Theory Concepts in medicine Georges Canguilhem Epistemology Immunology Normal and pathological 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CIRPHLES USR 3308, Department of PhilosophyEcole Normale SupérieureParisFrance
  2. 2.Tumor and Transplantation Immunology Laboratory, Clinic I for Internal MedicineUniversity Hospital of CologneCologneGermany

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