The Limits of the Self
Immunology and Biological Identity
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tolerance of foreign entities are the rule, not the exception. Instead Pradeu advances an alternative theory, the continuity theory, which offers a new way to answer the question of what triggers an immune response. It also echoes the recent realization that all organisms, and not only higher
vertebrates, have an immune system.
Pradeu's main thesis is that the self-nonself theory should be abandoned, but that immunology still proves to be decisive for delineating the boundaries of the organism. Articulating an evolutionary and an immunological perspective, he offers an original conception of the organism. Tolerance of the fetus by the mother and of countless bacteria on the body's surfaces proves that every organism is heterogeneous, that is, made of entities of different origins. In other words, every organism
appears as a chimera , a mixed living thing-the cohesiveness of which is ensured by the constant action of its immune system.
The Limits of the Self, will be essential reading for anyone interested in the definition of biological individuality and the understanding of the immune system.