Chapter 7 A Point for Thought: Immune Specificity and Brancusi's Kiss

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Immune specificity is usually described in terms of the lock-and-key metaphor. However, this metaphor is to a certain extent misleading and does not convey the complexity underlying immune specificity. The failure of the lock-and-key metaphor makes it difficult to understand immune specificity and recognition. This is the reason why immune specificity has been described as the specificity enigma. In this chapter, I point to three important differences between biological specificity and the mechanical specificity that underlies the lock-and-key metaphor. I further suggest an alternative lens through which immune specificity can be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReviving the Living
Subtitle of host publicationMeaning Making in Living Systems
EditorsLaura McNamara, Mary Meyer, Ray Patondagger, Yair Neuman
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 25 Mar 2008

Publication series

NameStudies in Multidisciplinarity
ISSN (Print)1571-0831


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