The cell as nexus: connections between the history, philosophy and science of cell biology

Abstract
Although the cell is commonly addressed as the unit of life, historians and philosophers have devoted relatively little attention to this concept in comparison to other fundamental concepts of biology such as the gene or species. As a partial remedy to this neglect, we introduce the cell as a major point of connection between various disciplinary approaches, epistemic strategies, technological vectors and overarching biological processes such as metabolism, growth, reproduction and evolution. We suggest that the role of the cell as a nexus forms the basis for a new philosophical and historical appreciation of cell biology. This perspective focuses less on the cell as a well-defined, stable object and places more emphasis on its role as a mediator of fundamental biological processes
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