Dear Soren, 

 

In my opinion, there are two issues here (again J ):

 

1. the issue of non-verbal (e.g., bodily) communication; 

2. the meta-biological or transdisciplinary integration vs. the
differentiation among the disciplines.

 

Ad 1. Although I don't agree with Luhmann on many things, his insistence
that everything communicated among humans is culturally coded, is fully
acceptable to me. "Love" is not a counter-example. Unlike animals, our
behavior is regulated by codes of communication. Preparing "Love" as a
passion, Luhmann spent months in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris reading
the emergence of romantic love in the literature of the early 18th century.
A similar intuition can be found in Giddens' book "The Transformation of
Intimacy". Of course, one sometimes needs bodily presence; Luhmann uses here
the concept of "symbiotic mechanisms"; but this is only relevant for the
variation. The selection mechanisms - which impulses are to be followed -
are cultural. Among human beings, this means: in terms of mutual and/or
shared expectations. The realm of expecting the other to entertain
expectations, shapes a "second contingency" which is otherwise absent in the
animal kingdom. (If you wish, you can consider it as a function of the
cortex as a symbiotic mechanism.)

 

This special status of human society should make us resilient against using
biological metaphors. Socio-biology has a terrible history since it links
social processes with evolutionary ones. The rule of law, however, protects
us against "survival of the fittest" as a structure of expectations. One
cannot define "the fittest" without using one (coded!) vocabulary or
another, and these vocabularies (discourses; Foucault) can be different; but
always disciplining. The codes function as selection mechanisms different
from an assumed "nature". (Inga Ivanova used the term "fractional
manifold".) The selection mechanisms are also coordination mechanisms; their
differentiation enables us to process more complexity.

 

2. As Krippendorff once emphasized, one should be suspicious about using the
word "system" in this context because it entails a biological metaphor of
integration and wholeness. Because the codes tend to differentiate and thus
to generate misunderstandings (variation), the social system can process
complexity by an order of magnitude more than any biological system. The
notion of "system" tends to reify, whereas in sociological theorizing it is
important to keep a firm eye on the second contingency of interacting
expectations. The clarification of misunderstandings, for example, enables
us to solve problems; sometimes one may need to invent new metaphors and
words. From this perspective, the sciences can be considered as rationalized
systems of expectations which operate in terms of codes retained above the
individual level. (Note that this is different from belief structures - cf.
the sociology of scientific knowledge of Bloor and Barnes -- because beliefs
remain attributes to agents of communities of agents.)

 

"Transdisciplinary integration" may be needed for one's internal well-being
(or soul), but it can be expected to remain a local instantiation. Since we
decapitated the ointed body of the King of France, there is no center left
(Lyotard). One may feel a need for integration and community. Community is
another coded form of communication (religion?). I provocatively advised my
students to keep that celebration for the Sunday mornings. Aren't we
celebrating our community today?

 

Central to our community is the notion of "information". A mathematical
theory of information (e.g., Shannon) enables us to entertain models that
one can use from one level to another, for testing hypothesis. These models
may come from biology (e.g. Lotka-Volterra), engineering (anticipatory
systems; Dubois), complex systems theory (Simon, Ashby), etc. For example:
can interactions among codes be modeled using Lotka-Volterra? (Ivanova
&Leydesdorff, 2014; in Scientometrics). The math is not meta, but epi
because the other domains can also be considered as specific domains of
communication. Maturana, for example, argues that a biology is generated
whenever molecules can be communicated (as more complex than atoms exchanged
in a chemistry).

 

3. Let me return to the theme of "love": note the transition from "Love" as
Christ, and thus the only intimate relations (17th century) to love as
passion in interpersonal relations. Here, Husserl is relevant: the
intersubjective is secularized. Luhmann proposed to operationalize this as
communication. In later work (after 1990), Luhmann than moved from the
communication of expectations to "observations". Observations, however,
serve us to update the expectations. The dynamics of expectations are the
proper subject of a sociology. Observations presume observing "systems"; but
it is problematic to consider evolving discourse as a "system" (see above).
The codes in the communication of expectations enable us also to be
surprised by observations. (In the Shannon formulas, the denominator than
goes to zero and the expected information value therefore to infinity.)

 

Let me add that I don't wish to deny the fruitfulness of the Piercean system
of analyzing signs can have fruitful applications in the information
sciences. However, its status is not different from a methodology or a
mathematical theory of communication.

 

Best,

Loet

 

  _____  

Loet Leydesdorff 

Professor, University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)

 <mailto:l...@leydesdorff.net> l...@leydesdorff.net ;
<http://www.leydesdorff.net/> http://www.leydesdorff.net/ 
Honorary Professor,  <http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/> SPRU, University of
Sussex; 

Guest Professor  <http://www.zju.edu.cn/english/> Zhejiang Univ., Hangzhou;
Visiting Professor,  <http://www.istic.ac.cn/Eng/brief_en.html> ISTIC,
Beijing;

Visiting Professor,  <http://www.bbk.ac.uk/> Birkbeck, University of London;


 <http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=ych9gNYAAAAJ&hl=en>
http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=ych9gNYAAAAJ&hl=en

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