This work represents Niklas Luhmann's definitive application of systems theory to the understanding of law. In it Luhmann reviews past attempts to create a theory of law and argues they all fail to capture how law operates in modern society. He presents an alternative, critical theory through analysing law as a system of communication.
Niklas Luhmann is widely recognized as one of the most original thinkers in the social sciences today. This major new work further develops the theories of the author by offering a challenging analysis of the relationship between society and the environment. Luhmann extends the concept of "ecology" to refer to any analysis that looks at connections between social systems and the surrounding environment. He traces the development of the notion of "environment" from the medieval idea--which encompasses both human and natural (...) systems--to our modern definition, which separates social systems from the external environment. In Luhmann's thought, human beings form part of the environment, while social systems consist only of communications. Utilizing this distinctive theoretical perspective, Luhmann presents a comprehensive catalog of society's reactions to environmental problems. He investigates the spheres of the economy, law, science, politics, religion, and education to show how these areas relate to environmental issues. Ecological Communication is an important work that critically examines claims central to our society--claims to modernity and rationality. It will be of great importance to scholars and students in sociology, political science, philosophy, anthropology, and law. (shrink)
In this volume, Niklas Luhmann, the leading exponent of systems theory, explores its implications for our understanding of law. The volume provides a rigorous application to law of a theory that offers profound insights into the relationships between law and other aspects of contemporary society, including politics, the economy, the media, education, and religion.Readership: Academics and students of sociology, law, philosophy, and legal philosophy.
Germany's leading contemporary social theorist provides a definitive analysis of art as a social and perceptual system which not only represents an important intellectual step in discussions of art but also an important advance in systems theory. Luhmann insists on the radical incommensurability between psychic systems (perception) and social systems (communication). Art is a special kind of communication that operates at the boundary between the social system and consciousness in ways that profoundly irritate communication while remaining strictly internal to the (...) social. Each chapter elaborates a particular aspect of the general problem of art's status as a social system. The book draws on a vast body of research in the social sciences, phenomenology, evolutionary biology, cybernetics, and information theory, combined with an intimate knowledge of art history, literature, aesthetics, and contemporary literary theory. The book also engages virtually every major theorist of art and aesthetics from Baumgarten to Derrida. (shrink)
This collection of five essays by Germanys most prominent and influential social thinker both links Luhmanns social theory to the question What is modern about modernity? and shows the origins and context of his theory. In the introductory essay, Modernity in Contemporary Society, Luhmann develops the thesis that the modern epistemological situation can be seen as the consequence of a radical change in social macrostructures that he calls social differentiation, thereby designating the juxtaposition of and interaction between a growing number (...) of social subsystems without any hierarchical structure. European Rationality defines rationality as the capacity to see the difference between systems and their environment as a unity. Luhmann argues that, in a world characterized by contingency, rationality tends to become coextensive with imagination, a view that challenges their classical binary opposition and opens up the possibility of seeing modern rationality as a paradox. In the third essay, Contingency as Modern Societys Defining Attribute, Luhmann develops a further and probably even more important paradox: that the generalization of contingency or cognitive uncertainty is precisely what provides stability within modern societies. In the process, he argues that medieval and early modern theology can be seen as a preadaptive advance through which Western thinking prepared itself for the modern epistemological situation. In Describing the Future, Luhmann claims that neither the traditional hope of learning from history nor the complementary hope of cognitively anticipating the future can be maintained, and that the classical concept of the future should be replaced by the notion of risk, defined as juxtaposing the expectation of realizing certain projects and the awareness that such projects might fail. The book concludes with The Ecology of Ignorance, in which Luhmann outlines prospective research areas for sponsors who have yet to be identified.. (shrink)
Trotz Luhmanns und Bourdieus Grundlagenwerke hat die Soziologie die empirische Erforschung und theoretische Analyse der Kunst weitgehend vernachlässigt. Ein soziologisch fundierter aktueller Aufriss des Kunstsystems liegt nicht vor. Einen Versuch dazu unternimmt Müller-Jentsch mit dieser Publikation, die fokussiert auf die soziologischen Begriffe von Organisation, Profession und Strategie Beiträge zu einer empirisch gerichteten Soziologie des Kunstsystems versammelt.
The essays in this volume formulate what is considered to be the preconditions for an adequate theory of modern society. The volume starts with an examination of the modern European philosophical and scientific tradition notably the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl.
Die Proklamation der "Postmoderne" hatte mindestens ein Verdienst. Sie hat bekannt gemacht, daß die moderne Gesellschaft das Vertrauen in die Richtigkeit ihrer eige nen Selbstbeschreibungen verloren hat. Auch sie sind jeweils anders möglich. Auch sie sind kontingent gewor den. Wie in der risikoreichen Welt des New Yorker U-Bahn-Netzes drängen sich jetzt die, die darüber reden wollen, an dafür bestimmten Plätzen unter heller Be leuchtung und bei laufenden Fernsehkameras zusammen. Es scheint ums intellektuelle Überleben zu gehen. Aber offenbar nur darum. Und (...) währenddessen geschieht, was geschieht, und die Gesellschaft evoluiert im Ausgang von dem, was erreicht ist, in eine unbekannte Zukunft. Vielleicht hatte das Stichwort der Postmoderne nur eine andere, variantenreichere Beschreibung der Moder ne versprechen wollen, die ihre eigene Einheit nur noch negativ vorstellen kann als Unmöglichkeit eines meta recit. Aber das ließe dann möglicherweise zu viel zu angesichts zahlreicher aktueller Dringlichkeiten, die auf fallen. Wir mögen gern konzedieren, daß es keine ver bindliche Repräsentation der Gesellschaft in der Gesell schaft gibt. Aber das wäre dann nicht das Ende, sondern der Beginn einer Reflexion der Form von Selbstbeob achtungen und Selbstbeschreibungen eines Systems, die im System selbst vorgeschlagen und durchgesetzt werden 7 müssen in einem Prozeß, der seinerseits wieder beob achtet und beschrieben wird. (shrink)
The paper reconstructs the evolution process of scientific knowledge. The evolution theory has been applied hitherto exclusively to the famous reference problem. It the eye would be incapable seeing something really available it could not establish itself it the reality as such evolutional achievement. Contrary to this view the author states that the cognitive apparatus could survive not due to their achievements in the representations of the external world but rather due to their selfreproductive capabilities. By extrapolation of this view (...) on the level of the epistemology it means that the knowledge itself selects that it can know on the base of that it already knows. The author suggests the principles of such cognitive evolution - the mechanisms of variety, selection and restabilization. The mechanism of variety concerns exclusively some particular operations (i.e. the communicative occurrences). Something innovative (unexpected, out of the ordinary) which has been recently created would occasionally be uttered, suggested, described, and probably printed under sole condition that it is apprehensible and writable. The selection is always based on some structures i.e. on the expectations of some reproductive use of some meaning affitudes. Only the structures can be marked out symbolically: applied to the science it means that they are marked as the true or the false ones. Finely, the stabilization level consists in the continuality of the autopoesis of the scientific communication. (shrink)
Ever since the inception of its academic career, sociology has approached its subject-matter in two different ways; one positivist, the other critical. Important theories, such as those of Karl Marx or Emile Durkheim, have always emphasized either one of these perspectives, but could never completely ignore the other one. The result was that as an empirical science, sociology has been interested in latent structures, while as critical theory, it has pointed out that social reality is not what it seems to (...) be. Therefore, all attempts at building a unified theory of society on the basis of the critical/positivist distinction had to lead into the paradox of treating appearance and reality, or latent and manifest structures, as one and the same thing. This situation is now changing in radical ways which sociology has yet to appreciate. I am referring to recent interdisciplinary discussions about theories of self-referential systems, autopoietic system closure, the second-order cybernetics of observing systems, and constructivist epistemology and information processing. We can draw upon these recent discussions in order to understand society as a self-observing system that defines its own identity while, at the same time, leaving an "unmarked space" for the possibility to describe society in quite different ways. (shrink)
Rationality can be defined as a re-entry of a distinction in itself and in particular as a re-entry of the distincition between system and enviroment in the system. This is a paradoxical and, for practical matters, utopian concept. It has the advantage that one can show that different "unfoldments" of the paradox are possible and that choosing one of them depends upon historical conditions of plausibility.