CPS Lunch Forum: Yael Friedman

Yael Friedman (CPS/IFIKK, UiO) presents "Who is the biological patient? A gradual, dynamic model of organism-environment" at our first CPS Lunch Forum this semester.

The seminar is open. Send an e-mail to gry.oftedal(at)ifikk.uio.no to receive the zoom-link.


Western physicians traditionally describe the biological aspect of the human being as an individual organism. Simultaneously, in public health, epidemiology, and ecological medicine, one can detect wider scopes of biological patients, as populations and ecosystems. The growing literature on symbionts also contributes to the variety of patient definitions, for example, by seeing human beings as holobionts, together with our microbes. While there is a lively discourse in the life sciences about different forms of (humans and non-humans) living beings concerning various scientific contexts, everything outside of them is often understood simply as 'environment,' a broad concept that has stayed as a relic from the exclusively organism-focused past. On the backdrop of current life sciences discussions, I suggest to rethink the traditional dichotomic model of organism-environment, which was introduced by Herbert Spencer in 1855. The paper presents a new gradual model of the living being and its exterior, i.e., the different ways of ´being outside the organism´ that correspond to various living beings. The model is formed as nested domains that create a spectrum of boundaries between the living being and its exterior, which are part of the same whole. The model allows a dynamic understanding of life in general and a more precise definition of the biological patient depending on the scientific context.

Published Jan. 19, 2021 9:25 PM - Last modified Jan. 20, 2021 10:45 PM