Sinn, Reflexion und System / Meaning, Reflection, and System
Zeitschrift für Soziologie
AbstractTaking LUHMANN's theory of evolution as an instance, it can be demonstrated that a concept of meaning compatible with the categories of systems theory is bound to neglect important dimensions of socio-cultural development. The attempt to vindicate this very limitation by drawing a line between social systems and organisms is proved problematical in the context of the ,Meaning vs. Life' debate. At the same time, employment of the term 'evolutionary mechanisms' (viz., variation,
... ariation, selection, and stabilization) brings into evidence that the theory of social evolution as proposed by LUHMANN is fashioned, in the last analysis, after the model of biological evolution. Carried to its extreme, this theory must lead to a notion of society as susceptible to being brought under control in the same way as nature is. When following HEGEL, in contrast, it should be possible to conceive of socio-cultural history in its uniqueness as the outcome of a social dialectic, which in turn could be adequately deployed by introducing a category of 'media of socialization' (viz., work, language, and domination). Prerequisite to this, however, would be the adoption of an unabbreviated concept of meaning (as derived from communications theory), which in itself would no longer be compatible with systems theory. Thus, the latter's claim to universal applicability should be evinced as untenable.