The article reconstructs the role and relevance of the concept of form in the theory of social systems starting from the problem of autology, i.e. the condition in which the possibilities available to a system depend on the system itself and its operations. How can theory take account of this circularity and of the related contingency without sliding into arbitrariness? Could a calculus of forms be helpful? George Spencer Brown’s calculus offers a formalization of how operations (and observations) of an autopoietic system depend on the operations of the system itself, but considers explicitly only first order observation. The figure of re-entry, in which a system observes its own operation of observation, marks the end of the calculus and the entrance into a field of indeterminacy. In order to formalize the relationships between different observation perspectives, that recognize each other but remain distinct, Gotthard Günther’s reflections on multivalued logics can offer some clues – but they don't offer a calculus. Combining the two approaches, however, one gets a reference that helps to deal with the enormous complexity of the increasingly widespread situations in which one must consider how the possibilities available to a system (for example the opening of the future) are also produced by the operations of the system itself, which is aware of it

Can Contingency be Formalized?

ESPOSITO, Elena
2013

Abstract

The article reconstructs the role and relevance of the concept of form in the theory of social systems starting from the problem of autology, i.e. the condition in which the possibilities available to a system depend on the system itself and its operations. How can theory take account of this circularity and of the related contingency without sliding into arbitrariness? Could a calculus of forms be helpful? George Spencer Brown’s calculus offers a formalization of how operations (and observations) of an autopoietic system depend on the operations of the system itself, but considers explicitly only first order observation. The figure of re-entry, in which a system observes its own operation of observation, marks the end of the calculus and the entrance into a field of indeterminacy. In order to formalize the relationships between different observation perspectives, that recognize each other but remain distinct, Gotthard Günther’s reflections on multivalued logics can offer some clues – but they don't offer a calculus. Combining the two approaches, however, one gets a reference that helps to deal with the enormous complexity of the increasingly widespread situations in which one must consider how the possibilities available to a system (for example the opening of the future) are also produced by the operations of the system itself, which is aware of it
ESPOSITO, Elena
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/740096
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