Cells and tissues: Interdisciplinary perspectives on the previously invisible
Ms Jojanneke DrogtZoom
The microscope has enabled us to see that which was previously invisible—and continuous to be invisible—to the naked eye. The impact of this development on medicine is immense, as cells and cell structures can now be analysed by pathologists in order to see how disease mechanisms function. Yet, what does it mean for cells to become visible? And, how can learn more about what remains invisible? As human beings, we have a bias towards what we can perceive; we can only hypothesize about how invisible phenomena function. Nevertheless, our knowledge of diseases isn’t limited to the multitude of ways in which a disease manifests itself physically. In this talk, we aim to show how interdisciplinary perspectives enable us to look beyond the immediately visible reality of disease. By focusing on historical, anthropological and philosophical viewpoints concerning the significance of the microscope we will first argue that ‘seeing’ disease mechanisms through a technological device is not the same as using the naked eye for diagnosing disease. Second, we will explore various ways in which invisible factors—in this case causal relations underlying cell patterns—play an intrinsic and ongoing role in gaining medical knowledge.