The aim of this paper is to present synthetically the central concepts and fundamental laws of Niklas Luhmann’s “Theory of Autopoietic Social Systems” and “Theory of Functional Social-Autopoietic Systems.” To do this we outline the conceptualization of notions like time, communications, observations, elements, relationships, complexity, connection, operation, environment, function, code, program, generalized symbolic media and their interrelationships and place within the laws of the theory. The guiding questions of this paper are: What entities do Luhmannian theory tell us about? How do these entities behave within the laws of the theory? And finally, the practical evaluation over the aims and goals of Luhmann’s theoretical program:, for which purposes? Relevance: The document presents, in a clear way, the central concepts of Luhmann’s theory of autopoiesis and its relevance to the study of social phenomena.
This paper aims to characterize the “operative constructivism” of Niklas Luhmann from a comparison with two other streams of epistemological constructivism: Piaget-inspired constructivism and radical constructivism. This comparison focuses on three topics: the characterization of the active role of the epistemic subject; the problem of the status of knowledge and its relation to reality; and the problem of the origin of conceptual meaning and the individual-society relationship. Based on these characterizations, it is evaluated in what respects the constructivist program of Luhmann diverges or converges with the other two schools of epistemological constructivism.
Open peer commentary on the article “Subsystem Formation Driven by Double Contingency” by Bernd Porr & Paolo Di Prodi. Upshot: I acknowledge the value of Porr & Di Prodi’s piece for simulating Luhmann’s key process of subsystem formation and exploring how the concepts of “differentiation” and “binary code” relate to their model.
Open peer commentary on the article “Second-Order Cybernetics as a Fundamental Revolution in Science” by Stuart A. Umpleby. Upshot: Connecting Umpleby’s article with Piaget and García’s genetic epistemology, I will argue that the revolution the former discerns is more comprehensive. Additionally, since the latter differ from cybernetic and radical traditions in their philosophical assumptions about society and its conditioning on knowledge, I will suggest that these assumptions must be considered to explain each constructivist program’s achievements and challenges.
This paper analyzes Humberto Maturana’s understanding abour the objectivity of scientific knowledge through a critical dialogue with other contemporary epistemological constructivist theories. The two subjects discussed are the relations between knowledge-reality and knowledge-society, which are the most common senses that guide the philosophical discussion about objectivity. This paper also includes a systematization of the main theses of Matuana’s biology of cognition, and a brief evaluation of the role of the notion of “autopoiesis” for the understanding of objectivity.
Constructivism is a heterogeneous intellectual movement that spans across different fields of knowledge. Within constructivism there is a variety of discussions that deal with their own questions and particular references, and that appear clustered in the journals and publications of different scientific areas. Attempting to clarify this communication, the present paper explores scientific publications from Latin America that include the term “constructivism” among their descriptors, as listed on CLASE, PERIODICA and SCIELO databases. These publications have been segmented into 3 very general groups, according to the way in which constructivism is used: (1) those that seek to “apply” constructivism to the problems of their area; (2) those that take “constructivism” as their object of study or criticism; (3) those that adopt constructivism as a “framework” for notional or conceptual analysis. Some data about those publication groups is described and compared in an attempt to show how scientific communication about constructivism organizes in Latin America (publication area, subjects, keywords, main authors).
From constructivist epistemology inspired in Piaget’s work, the notion of “epistemic framework”has been proposed to deal with the problem of the relation between society and scientific knowledge. In this paper we intend to provide conceptual precisions about this notion, determining its scopes and highlighting its specificities. For that purpose, we propose a comparison with Thomas S. Khun’s notion of “paradigm”.
We characterize Rolando García’s view on science, as outlined on his writings on science and university policy, and then we trace this view on his constructivist episte- mology. Through this lens, we analyze his review and reformulation of Jean Piaget’s constructivist theory, his subsequent reflection on interdisciplinary research of complex systems. Based on this analysis, we outline the current challenges for a constructivist epistemology.