Publication 6500

Fleischer M. (1998) Concept of the “Second Reality” from the perspective of an empirical systems theory on the basis of radical constructivism. In: Altmann G. & Walter A. K. W. A. (eds.) Systems: New paradigms for the human sciences. de Gruyter, Berlin: 423–460.
Excerpt: Cultural analysis is considered to deal with the phenomenon of the Second Reality. The First, physical, objectively given reality and its laws are only a subject of cultural analysis insofar as they are the basis of the Second Reality and provide the general functional laws for the latter. Human societies show a number of phenomena that, although they are products of the First Reality, cannot be completely reduced to it. All these phenomena have a semiotic nature (referring to Peirce’s semiotic conception, which is triadic and relation-functional). This includes conceptions that consider ‘acts’ (Schmidt 1980) or ‘communication’ (e.g. Drechsel 1984) as the basic elements of cultural phenomena, because all these phenomena are put down to signs and semiotic processes. For this reason the construction of a theory seems much more promising if one starts with the common fundamental elements rather than with objects which are products of semiotic processes. I assume that semiotic phenomena (generally speaking statements that the Second Reality is subject to the same laws as the First Reality) have an objective, that means inter-personal and collective nature, but they show a quite autonomous status and are partially ruled by self-organizing processes. This refers to the phenomenon of’Weltbilder’ and the principle of ‘constructivity’, the fact that in different cultures different constructs are formed out of the same semiotic material. These constructs, which organize society and are organized by society (= functional, cross-linked causality) are responsible for the functioning of culture and (due to the system’s conditions) are endowed with more ‘degrees of freedom’ than society is. It is assumed here that the laws of open, dynamic, irreversible systems apply to the Second Reality. The thermodynamic or biological system theory of evolution (after Riedl), the discourse theory (after Link and Fleischer) and semiotics (after Peirce) are regarded as object-adequate-theories. As epistemology serves the constructivistic functionalism (Finke 1982). The reason behind this choice is that it is more probable that the product of something (the culture) follows the laws of that particular something (nature, structure of evolution) rather than that it develops totally new, independent and autonomous laws.
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