This article revisits long-standing critiques of the role of metaphor in immunological discourse. Drawing on Alfred North Whitehead’s speculative philosophy of organism, I focus on the use of metaphor to explain the process by which COVID-19 vaccine research is able to generate protective antibodies, the challenge of autoimmune disease and dengue fever antibodies. I suggest that metaphors are provoked by the perplexity that arises from presupposing that distinct morphological substances are the first order of reality. I conclude that rather than seeing metaphors as typically skewing conceptions of the body, as has been previously argued, those of memory, recognition and misrecognition may be instructive of a body in transition. Indeed, a process of transition that shows degrees of creativity. When gesturing towards the processual nature of infection and immunity, metaphors invite new modes of shared thinking across the disciplinary divide.
- Infectious diseases
- philosophy of science
- Medical humanities
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Data sharing is not applicable as no data sets were generated and/or analysed for this study.
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