Foundations of Niklas Luhmann's Thory of Social Systems
Alex Viskovatoff



"First, the theory Luhmann adopted from biology as the basis of his own theory was a poor choice since that theory has no explanatory power, being purely descriptive; furthermore, that theory is fundamentally frawed sinceit implies that viruses are impossible. Second, Luhmann's theory of meaning cannot coherently make the social domain autonomous as he desires since Luhmann does not take into account the distinction between syntax and semantics."(p.481)



2: The Theory of Autopoietic Systems


"they* somewhat impertinently dismiss the commonly accepted conception of what ddistinguishes living from nonliving systems--the possession bythe former of a genetic program that allows cells to conduct in a controlled manner sequences of operations that have evolved throughthe process of natural selection (.......). According to the authors*, there is no special significance as far asa fundamental understanding of life is concerned about the fact that a cell's gene s possess in a highly stable form instructions forthe assembly of the cell's proteins:inded, it is highly misleadingto speak of instructions since instructions presuppose a code, which is an observer-dependent notion. What makes a cell living is the circular organization of all of the chemical reactions that occur in it,and there is nothing special as far as the cell's self-production isconcerned about the reactions involved in gene transcription andprotein synthesis as opposed to others involving metabolism, maintainance of the cell membrane, and so on."(p.488)
    * Maturana and Valera
"They* claim to "explain" life by means of the concept of autopoiesis, but what they provide is not what is normally thought of as an explanation but a "derivation" of the "phenomenology" of the cell--such as it maintaining a boundary to the environment, preserving a certain organizational identity, and reproducing--from the "phenomenology" of autopoiesis;"(p.489)
    * Maturana & Varela


"What the authors* really provide, however, is what is normally only considered as a first step in the understaniding of a given set of phenomena:a description of them. The way biologists explain how the cell is able to produce itself is by postulating that its genes specify instructions for doing so and by elucidating the mechanisms that the cell possesses, allowing it to carry out the "instructions" in the genes.Indeed, it is hard to se how a cell would be able to exist without dying, much less "maintain an identity," if it had not maintain in a fairly stable form a description of how to do so(.....).(p.489)
    * Maturana & Varela

Viskovatoffによれば、M&V による "rejection of the genetic explanation" は2つの誤謬に基づいている;

"First, they make a circular argument by rejecting the characterizaiton of life in terms of teleonomy(directed but not teleological behavior guided by a program) on the ground that by using concepts such as the genetic code, teleonomy uses observer-dependent descriptions, while a living system must be described in terms of irs own internal organization(....).

何故 circular なのか  ↓

".....the reason they give for understanding life in terms of its internal organization--its autopoiesis--is that so far, a sufficiently unified conceptualization of life had not been found (the conceptualization in terms of natual selection, replication of DNA, and teleonomy seem unified to many).

そして、"The second error" ↓

"the common mistake made when discussing biological problems of confusing ultimate and proximate causation and a general disregard for evolutionary thinking"(pp.489-490)


"....the theory is quite simply false, at least insofar as living systems are concerned."


(According to M&V)
"The order that exists in the cell's autopoiesis is attributable not to the genetic machinery acting as a "controller" of the rest of the cell but to the mutual, reciprocal adaptation of the circular reactions occurring in the cell. In such a world, there is no room for viruses. For what viruses fo is very effectively take over the cell's instructions for the cell's. The cell's gene transcription machinery is not only able to understand the information in thr viral DVA--and the cell thus takes up without any modification information from the outside and lets it enter into its own internal operation, something at odds with the theory--but the cell is able to merrily go on synthesizing new viruses while carrying on operations that normally are part of its autopoiesis, such as using energy from its stored reserves and maintaining its membranes. Thus, despite being so radically modified, the cell's autopoiesis (if thet is stil the correct word)continues, and the cell dies not because it has simply usedv up all its resources to produce virus particled or because it is so full of those particles that it bursts."(pp.490-491)

Viskovatoff によれば、M&V は "a fundamental aspect of life" である、その "program-based nature" を無視しているわけですが、それを M&V の「倫理的信念」故の "their inclination to absolutize the concept of autonomy" に帰しています(p.491)。