Volume 13 · Number 1 · Pages 150–151
Self and Non-Sense: The Radicality of Varela’s Contribution to Immunology

John Stewart

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Open peer commentary on the article “The Epigenetic Immune Network” by Nelson Monteiro Vaz & Luiz Antônio Botelho Andrade. Upshot: The commentator’s motivation for accompanying Varela in a foray into immunology lay in the clear-cut, value-laden contrast between traditional immunology and the new organism-centred view pioneered by Vaz and Coutinho. In the twenty years that have elapsed, models have become increasingly complicated so that this clear-cut contrast has been obscured. In immunology as in cognitive science, the radicality of Varela’s views is disturbing for the mainstream community.


Stewart J. (2017) Self and non-sense: The radicality of Varela’s contribution to immunology. Constructivist Foundations 13(1): 150–151. http://constructivist.info/13/1/150

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Coutinho A., Forni L., Holmberg D., Ivars F. & Vaz N. M. (1984) From an antigen-centered, clonal perspective of immune responses to an organism-centered network perspective of autonomous activity in a self-referential immune system. Immunological Reviews 79: 151–168. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Stewart J., Varela F. & Coutinho A. (1989) The relationship between connectivity and tolerance as revealed by computer simulation of immune networks: Some lessons for an understanding of autoimmunity. Journal of Autoimmunity 2 (Supplement 1): 15–23. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar

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