David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 41 (3):183-193 (2010)
The term ‘cell’, in addition to designating fundamental units of life, has also been applied since the nineteenth century to technical apparatuses such as fuel and galvanic cells. This paper shows that such technologies, based on the electrical effects of chemical reactions taking place in containers, had a far-reaching impact on the concept of the biological cell. My argument revolves around the controversy over oxidative phosphorylation in bioenergetics between 1961 and 1977. In this scientific conflict, a two-level mingling of technological culture, physical chemistry and biological research can be observed. First, Peter Mitchell explained the chemiosmotic hypothesis of energy generation by representing cellular membrane processes via an analogy to fuel cells. Second, in the associated experimental scrutiny of membranes, material cell models were devised that reassembled spatialized molecular processes in vitro. Cells were thus modelled both on paper and in the test tube not as morphological structures but as compartments able to perform physicochemical work. The story of cells and membranes in bioenergetics points out the role that theories and practices in physical chemistry had in the molecularization of life. These approaches model the cell as a ‘topology of molecular action’, as I will call it, and it involves concepts of spaces, surfaces and movements. They epitomize an engineer’s vision of the organism that has influenced diverse fields in today’s life sciences
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
William Bechtel (2007). Discovering Cell Mechanisms: The Creation of Modern Cell Biology. Journal of the History of Biology 40 (1):185-187.
Michel Morange & Matthew Cobb (1999). A History of Molecular Biology. Journal of the History of Biology 32 (3):568-570.
William Bechtel (2010). The Cell: Locus or Object of Inquiry? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 41 (3):172-182.
Douglas Allchin (2002). To Err and Win a Nobel Prize: Paul Boyer, ATP Synthase and the Emergence of Bioenergetics. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 35 (1):149 - 172.
Citations of this work BETA
Staffan Müller-Wille (2010). Cell Theory, Specificity, and Reproduction, 1837–1870. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 41 (3):225-231.
Mathias Grote (2013). Purple Matter, Membranes and 'Molecular Pumps' in Rhodopsin Research (1960s–1980s). Journal of the History of Biology 46 (3):331-368.
Gerhard Müller-Strahl (2014). Matter, Metaphors, and Mechanisms: Rethinking Cell Theories. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 48:130-150.
María Jesús Santesmases (forthcoming). The Bacterial Cell Wall in the Antibiotic Era: An Ontology in Transit Between Morphology and Metabolism, 1940s–1960s. Journal of the History of Biology.
Kijan Espahangizi (2015). From Topos to Oikos: The Standardization of Glass Containers as Epistemic Boundaries in Modern Laboratory Research. Science in Context 28 (3):397-425.
Similar books and articles
L. R. Franklin-Hall (2010). Trashing Life's Tree. Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):689-709.
Jacques Demongeot (2009). Biological Boundaries and Biological Age. Acta Biotheoretica 57 (4):397-418.
Edward Wilson Averill (2003). Perceptual Variation and Access to Colors. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (1):22-22.
Richard L. Gregory (1998). The Level of Filling-in and When It is Cognitive. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (6):758-758.
Seumas Miller (2001). Social Action: A Teleological Account. Cambridge University Press.
Robert W. Korn (1993). Apical Cells as Meristems. Acta Biotheoretica 41 (3):175-189.
Michael Thompson (2008). Life and Action: Elementary Structures of Practice and Practical Thought. Harvard University Press.
Norman Ford (2011). Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells. Chisholm Health Ethics Bulletin 16 (4):4.
Antoine Danchin (2007). Archives or Palimpsests? Bacterial Genomes Unveil a Scenario for the Origin of Life. Biological Theory 2 (1):52-61.
Norman Ford (2007). Stem Cells, Altered Nuclear Transfer & Ethics. Chisholm Health Ethics Bulletin 12 (3):9.
José Pierrez & Xavier Ronot (1992). Flow Cytometric Analysis of the Cell Cycle: Mathematical Modeling and Biological Interpretation. Acta Biotheoretica 40 (2-3):131-137.
Deng K. Niu & Ya F. Wang (1995). Why Animals Have Tumours. Acta Biotheoretica 43 (3):279-280.
Rolf P. Würtz (1997). Context Dependent Feature Groups, a Proposal for Object Representation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20 (4):702-703.
Added to index2010-09-12
Total downloads7 ( #401,220 of 1,789,926 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #423,018 of 1,789,926 )
How can I increase my downloads?