Immunological Discourse in Political Philosophy: Immunisation and its Discontents, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Immunological Discourse in Political Philosophy

Immunisation and its Discontents, 1st Edition

By Inge Mutsaers


154 pages

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pub: 2016-03-10
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Given the propensity of contemporary protection measures such as counterterrorism efforts and fierce protection strategies against viral threats, as well as physical and legal barriers against migration, a number of political philosophers, including Peter Sloterdijk and Roberto Esposito, have claimed that contemporary (political) culture can be characterised by a so-called ’immunisation paradigm’. This book critically examines the intricate entanglement between biological immunological notions and their political philosophical appropriation, whilst studying the ’immunisation response’ to recent viral threats, including the Swine Flu pandemic of 2009 and the lab-bred Avian flu threat of 2012, to analyse immunisation as a biopolitical strategy. Offering insights into to the polarising tendencies in contemporary political culture resulting from the appropriation of immunological concepts in political thought, the author also shows how political philosophers tend to build on purely defensive understandings of immunity. As such, Immunological Discourse in Political Philosophy constitutes a theoretically sophisticated critique of the ’semantic trap’ caused by the use of immunological concepts in political philosophy. Arguing for a more versatile and less defensive immunological repertoire, which allows for the development of alternative and less polarised forms of political debate, this book will appeal to scholars of political theory, sociology, philosophy and science and technology studies.


’In Inge Mutsaers’ excellent book, it is argued that political thought and action is permeated with notions such as purity, contagion, or infection. Since Aristotle, philosophers have always sensed that politics is about nothing else than the provision of immunity. Mutsaers’ merit in this highly readable book is that she somehow manages to convey her profound disquiet about this state of affairs to her readership.’ René ten Bos, Radboud University, The Netherlands ’The often tense relationship between biological and political philosophical concepts is bridged in an admirable manner in this book by an equally profound and accurate analysis of the concept of immunity. A must read for anybody interested in both political and social philosophy as in the work of Peter Sloterdijk.’ Huub Dijstelbloem, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands ’A fine exploration into a fascinating new field where biology and philosophy meet. What is the urgency of immunological insights for modern politics and culture? Starting from ground-breaking thinkers like Esposito and Sloterdijk, Inge Mutsaers offers an original and exciting approach to this question.’ Laurens ten Kate, University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Table of Contents

List of Figures



1. Introducing the relation between biology and politics

PART I Biological immunisation

2. The roots of philosophical immunity

3. Developments in immunology

4. Immunisation against viral threats

PART II Philosophical immunisation

5. Sloterdijk’s ‘Immunology of Spheres’

6. Alternative immunological concepts in political philosophy


7. Towards a common philosophical immunological repertoire



About the Author

Inge Mutsaers completed her doctoral work at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and is currently an independent researcher and policy advisor to the Dutch College of General Practitioners.

About the Series

Theory, Technology and Society

Theory, Technology and Society
Theory, Technology and Society presents the latest work in social, cultural and political theory, which considers the impact of new technologies on social, economic and political relationships. Central to the series are the elucidation of new theories of the humanity-technology relationship, the ethical implications of techno-scientific innovation, and the identification of unforeseen effects which are emerging from the techno-scientific organization of society. With particular interest in questions of gender relations, the body, virtuality, penality, work, aesthetics, urban space, surveillance, governance and the environment, the series encourages work that seeks to determine the nature of the social consequences that have followed the deployment of new technologies, investigate the increasingly complex relationship between 'the human' and 'the technological', or addresses the ethical and political questions arising from the constant transformation and manipulation of humanity.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Political
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General