Control Of Intransparency | Luhmann (1997)

Luhmann Control Of Intransparency shanchuan huang

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General systems theory shows that the combination of self-referential operations and
operational closure (or the re-entry of output as input) generates a surplus of possible
operations and therefore intransparency of the system for its own operation. The system
cannot produce a complete description of itself. It has to cope with its own unresolvable
indeterminacy. To be able to operate under such conditions the system has to introduce
time. It has to distinguish between its past and its future. It has to use a memory function
that includes both remembering and forgetting. And it needs an oscillator function to
represent its future. This means, for example, that the future has to be imagined as
achieving or not achieving the goals of the system. Even the distinction of past and future
is submitted to oscillation in the sense that the future can be similar to the past or not. In
this sense the unresolvable indeterminacy or the intransparency of the system for itself
can find a temporal solution. But this means that the past cannot be changed (although
selectively remembered) and the future cannot be known (although structured by
distinctions open for oscillation). © 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Syst. Res., Vol. 15, 359–371 (1997)