Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos A. (2011) Critical autopoiesis: The environment of the law. In: De Vries B. & Francot L. (eds.) Law’s environment: Critical legal perspectives. Eleven International Publishing, The Hague: 45–62. https://cepa.info/5245
Law and Environment enter a connection of disrupted continuum. The recent ‘turns’ in law towards materiality, spatiality, corporeality, disconnect the usual distance between law and its environment and enhance the visibility of materiality continuum between the two. Law is no longer abstract but spatially emplaced, corporeally felt, materially present. The environment, be it in the form of human/non-human bodies, technology, weather phenomena, and the wider, open ecology of material presence, destabilises the system, rendering it more precarious and more distant from its usual self-description. Building on Luhmann’s theory of autopoiesis, I present my reading of what I call Critical Autopoiesis, namely the autopoietics of materiality, spatiality and corporeality as they emerge from contemporary legal theory. I am employing Deleuze and Guattari in connection to Luhmann in order to multiply and indeed fractally explode the Luhmannian boundaries between law and its environment.
Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos A. (2014) Critical autopoiesis and the materiality of law. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law – Revue internationale de Sémiotique juridique 27(2): 389–418. https://cepa.info/5244
Autopoietic theory is increasingly seen as a candidate for a radical theory of law, both in relation to its theoretical credentials and its relevance in terms of new and emerging forms of law. An aspect of the theory that has remained less developed, however, is its material side, and more concretely the theory’s accommodation of bodies, space, objects and their claim to legal agency. The present article reads Luhmann’s theory of autopoietic systems in a radical and material manner, linking it on the one hand to current post-structural theorisations of law and society, and on the other hand extending its ambit to accommodate the influx of material considerations that have been working their way through various other disciplines. The latter comprises both a materialisation of the theory itself and ways of conceptualising the legal system as material through and through. This I do by further developing what I have called Critical Autopoiesis, namely an acentric, topological, post-ecological and posthuman understanding of Luhmann’s theory, that draws on Deleuzian thought, feminist theory, geography, non-representational theory, and new material and object-oriented ontologies. These are combined with some well-rehearsed autopoietic concepts, such as distinction, environment and boundaries; Luhmann’s earlier work on materiality continuum; more recent work on bodies and space; as well as his work on form and medium in relation to art. The article concludes with five suggestions for an understanding of what critical autopoietic materiality might mean for law.