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Species and Specificity: An Interpretation of the History of Immunology

Species and Specificity: An Interpretation of the History of Immunology

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Pauline M. H. Mazumdar
Cambridge University Press, 10/26/1995
EAN 9780521431729, ISBN10: 0521431727

Hardcover, 476 pages, 23.4 x 16.1 x 2.7 cm
Language: English

In the first hundred years of its history, the problems of species and specificity were the core problems of research and practice in immunology. The old botanical dispute about the nature of species reappeared in the late nineteenth century in the disputes of the bacteriologists, to be followed by their students, the immunologists, immunochemists and blood group geneticists. In the course of this controversy, Mazumdar argues, five generations of scientific protagonists make themselves aggressively plain. Their science is designed only in part to wrest an answer from nature: it is at least as important to wring an admission of defeat from their opponents. One of those on the losing side of the debate was the German immunochemist Karl Landsteiner, whose unitarian views were excluded from the state health and medical institutions of Europe, where specificity and pluralism, the legacies of Robert Koch and Paul Erlich, were entrenched.

Part I. Specificity and Unitarianism in XIX Century Botany and Bacteriology
1. The Unitarians
2. The Linnaeans
3. The dominance of specificity
4. The history of XIX century bacteriology from this point of view
Part II. The Inherited Controversy
Specificity and Unitarianism in Immunology
5. Dichotomy and classification in the thought of Paul Erlich
6. Max von Gruber and Paul Erlich
7. Max von Gruber and Karl Landsteiner
8. Unity, simplicity, continuity
the philosophy of Ernst Mach
Part III. Chemical Affinity and Immune Specificity
The Argument in Chemical Terms
9. Structural and physical chemistry in the late XIX century
10. Erlich's chemistry and its opponents
the dissociation theory of Arrhenius and Madsen
11. Erlich's chemistry and its opponents
the colloid theory of Landsteiner and Pauli
12. Erlich's chemistry and its opponents
the new structural chemistry of Landsteiner and Pick
13. The decline and persistence of Erlich's chemical theory
Part IV. Absolute Specificity in Blood Group Genetics
14. Immunology and genetics in the early XX century
15. The specificity of cells and the specificity of proteins
16. The last confrontation
Conclusion.