Publication 5085

Hejl P. M. (1982) Die Theorie autopoietischer Systeme: Perspektiven für die soziologische Systemtheorie. Rechtstheorie 13(1): 45–88. Fulltext at
When Talcott Parsons started to think and write on Social Systems in the early fifties of the 20th century he resuscitated the much older conflict between the natural sciences and the social sciences. One aspect of this conflict results from the fact that the social sciences are relatively young. As they had and have to compete, at least to a certain degree, with established or accepted disciplines, they tended to claim their independence at the level of both concepts and methods. As a consequence, cooperation with neighbor disciplines became difficult up to the definition of what might character “neighbor” disciplines. The present paper tries to overcome this situation. (I) A view of science based on a reintegration of recent work on cognition / epistemology, theory of science and social theory is proposed. The next step then (II) presents and discusses the theory of autopoietic systems as a new approach for the social sciences. (III) Analyzing the system concept as proposed by Niklas Luhmann in his functional-structural systems theory, problems of the current sociological systems theory are identified and discussed. Then a way is proposed (IV) that shows how a system in the sense of the functional-structural systems theory can be constructed in the context of the theory of autopoietic systems that allows us to avoid the identified problems. The following chapter (V) discusses aspects of one of the most important means of social interaction, language. Part (VI) resumes very briefly the main arguments.

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