Perplexity as a provocation: revisiting the role of metaphor as a ‘place holder’ for the potential of COVID-19 antibodies

Rosengarten, Marsha. 2022. Perplexity as a provocation: revisiting the role of metaphor as a ‘place holder’ for the potential of COVID-19 antibodies. Medical Humanities, ISSN 1468-215X [Article] (In Press)

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Abstract or Description

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.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1136/medhum-2021-012343

Additional Information:

Funded by Australian Research Council Award Number: DP210101604.

Keywords:

Covid-19, Metaphors, Immunological discourse, A.N. Whitehead, Perplexity

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process (CSISP)

Dates:

DateEvent
10 May 2022Accepted
30 May 2022Published

Item ID:

31866

Date Deposited:

14 Jun 2022 15:28

Last Modified:

15 Jun 2022 10:28

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/31866

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