Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 15, No 1 (2019)

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The Ideological Matrix of Science: Natural Selection and Immunity as Case Studies

Agustin Ostachuk

Abstract


The modern concept of ideology was established by the liberal politician and philosopher Destutt de Tracy, with the objective of creating an all-embracing and general science of ideas, which followed the sensualist and empiricist trend initiated by Locke. He also built his political economy upon the liberal concepts from Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus. The Malthusian concept of struggle for existence wrongly assumed that population grew faster than the means of existence. This “natural” law contained implicitly the idea that the poor and least gifted would not survive. This idea led to the progressive development of the concept of natural selection, whose definitive version was given by Darwin. Mechnikov took both these concepts and conceived immunity as a struggle between a host and its invader, the so-called phagocytosis theory. This theory created the necessity to possess mechanisms to discriminate between the own and the foreign, and led to the conception of the immune self. These concepts were not developed from ideas coming from perceptions or sensations, but from ideas coming from their values: individual interest, inevitable inequality, property, utility and profit. Values are ideals that constitute an ideological matrix that exerts a numinous activity and drive us and impulse us towards certain directions.

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