All living organisms are under stress imposed by their surrounding environments. They must adapt to their stressors to live and survive. At the forefront of this adaptation is a defense system called immunity. Immunity, as the most ancient cognitive apparatus with memory function, is present in all living organisms. In previous reports, minimal cognitive function was defined as a “biologized” concept—namely, perception of elements in a milieu, integration of perceived information, reaction according to integrated information, and memory of that experience. In this study, I aim to explore the essential feature of immunity by synthesizing scientific facts and “metaphysicalizing” them with logical reasoning. As a result of my analysis, I have realized the essential element in immunity: the capacity to preserve the existence of organisms by regulating their physiology and pathology. Having further analyzed immunity with special reference to the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza and George Canguilhem, conatus
(“appetite”, to be precise) with normative activities is deeply embedded in immunity and may constitute its essential feature. Given that conatus
and normativity imply mental elements, including the judgment of good and bad or health and disease, it is possible to conclude that the essential function of immunity includes cognition with normative connotations. This inclusive view encourages us to rethink the fundamental nature and philosophical implications of immunity from the cognitive perspective.
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