The Epistemological Meaning of Luhmann’s Critique of Classical Ontology

This paper is a discussion of the sustainability of a concept of World compatible with the “operative constructivism” and the operative conception of observation of the Theory of Systems, according to Niklas Luhmann. The paper scrutinizes the concepts of observation of H. von Foerster, H. Maturana, G. Günther and N. Luhmann providing the general framework of the “operative constructivism”. Particularly, the paper will focus on N. Luhmann’s understanding of the role of observation in the constitution of the self-reference of the social systems of the Modern Society. The case of the ”System of Art” will be briefly inspected. What place shall we concede to the idea of an “objective” world, according to the Theory of Systems? Are Systems “objective”? According to N. Luhmann, for the description of systems only operations are “objective”. However, an operation is not an entity, which means that we need to depict a new kind of “ob-jects”, very different from the “thing-objectivity” of the ancient Metaphysics and different from the Cartesian concept of “res”. What means objectivity according to the Theory of Systems? This question was at stake in the formulation of N.  Luhmann’s “Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft: Society is “weder Subjekt noch Objekt”. This paper attempts to address this formula.


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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