From System to Form: Niklas Luhmann

Although the work of Niklas Luhmann is relatively unknown in the English speaking world, his writings have begun to gain attention four years after his death in 1998. His style is abstruse and his ideas complex, but his contributions to social theory, sociology, aesthetics and ethics are only now beginning to be discovered in the United States. At the core of Luhmann’s sociological theory are the dual concepts of “system” and “environment.” A “social system” is a logic that defines a certain segment of society and the way that we “code” the world around us. Thus, there is a political system, an ethical system, a system of law, art and so on. These systems provide us with a semantic and logical universe within which we are formed and through which we comprehend our world, our “environment.” We act within our environment in a way defined by these various systems. In this interview, Luhmann discusses his social theory and applies it to art and the problem of form and content adding to the long tradition of German social philosophy and aesthetic theory.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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