Asymmetrization (Asymmetrisierung) [chapter]

2021 Unlocking Luhmann  
Asymmetrization (Asymmetrisierung) →Meaning-constituting systems are self-referential systems, since each element therein refers only to other elements in the system, and through them refers back to itself [→Self-Reference]. This circularity becomes a problem if it takes a pure, tautological form, as in the case of "A is A". In this form, the operations cannot find any identifiable connection, because they occur with no informational content and without any anchor point. Meaning-constituting
more » ... tems interrupt pure self-reference by selecting reference points in the operations, and introduce an asymmetry in the circularity of the references. For instance, in the case of "A is A only when...", the condition "only when..." makes the statement informative, offering connections for (possible) future operations. Connectivity is the condition for the operational capacity of the system, and it therefore constitutes the necessary condition for its autopoietic reproduction [→Autopoiesis]. The introduction of asymmetries does not change the fact that systems are self-referential. Meaning-constituting systems presents the problem of tautology, since they can operate only on the basis of self-reference. Social systems can only communicate and psychic systems can only think: every communication can connect only to other communications, and every thought only to other thoughts. For this reason, social and psychic systems are forced to constantly create conditions that avoid the short circuit of self-reference: they must de-tautologize themselves and unfold their self-reference. Tautology does not disappear in asymmetrization; it remains as a condition for selfreference, and both tautology and self-reference remain the prerequisites for the existence of the system. The introduction of asymmetries solves the problem of the unproductive purely tautological circulation. The system must be capable of inserting additional meaning, which determines the direction in which the system can operate informatively.
doi:10.14361/9783839456743-006 fatcat:il5sfjnucves5lqk4lkgmqanly