P. 15 From Cybernetics and Human Knowing vol. 1, no. 4, 1993

ed by itself or by another self." Kierkegaard, op. cit.) And, you might continue, if it has established itself, it must have established the other self. Thus, it exists for me through me.

In consequence, Luhmann - inspired by Talcott Parsons - calls the two partners of communication Ego and Alter. Ego communicates, but it communicates with the other as a projection of ego, i.e. with Alter Ego. Here, contingency becomes mutual contingency or double contingency. "The connection between double contingency and self-reference is established through the ego and alter ego constellation, and this in a specific way. When ego experiences an alter as alter ego and acts in this context, then any concept that the ego makes of its action refers to itself." (Luhmann 1984 p. 182, my translation) 13

Social versus Psychic Systems

As we have seen, the psychic system is a closed system; particularly, it is differentiated from the external world. This is a conditio sine qua non for its existence. Here, Luhmann is in line with Bateson. However, even though at first Bateson's concept of information as a difference which makes a difference seems to match the concept of information which - at least implicitedly - can be found in the work of N. Luhmann, a closer inspection discloses major differences. Where Bateson didn't make a clear distinction between the psychic and the social world, Luhmann in his construction of the concept of communication represents an uncompromising distinction between those two worlds. They are both meaning systems, but they are different in the way they reproduce meaning: Psychic systems think, while social systems communicate. "Human beings cannot communicate, not even brains can communicate, not even consciousness can communicate. Only communication can communicate. (...) Thus, what we call each our own consciosness operates as an operatively closed autopoieticai system." (Luhmann 1988a p. 884f, my translation) The starting point for any theory of consciousness must be "...that cognition has to be understood as the recursive processing of symbols (however materialized) in systems which are closed through the conditions of the connectability of their operations." (Ibid. p. 884f, my translation) 14

That psychic systems cannot communicate and that social systems cannot think is immediately obvious for Luhmann. Partly, only a small minority believes in telepathy (which would be consciousness's way to establish communicative contacts), and partly - as everybody has realized - many thoughts cannot be communicated; this is obvious, "...when one realizes that consciousness is not only concerned with words and vague word and propositional ideas but also and preeminently with perception and with the imaginative depiction and effacement of images." (Luhmann 1992, p. 258)

Bateson Versus Luhmann: Closed Versus Open Systems

For Luhmann, the keyword is functional differentiation. Actually, his project can be looked at as a search for differentiations: What is the difference between biological and social systems? That social systems' autopoiesis is formed as meaning. What is the difference between social and psychic systems? That social systems communicate, while psychic systems think.

Where Luhmann focuses on differences, Bateson emphasizes unities. "Psychic systems think", says Luhmann. They don't communicate. Similarly, social systems don't think. Both are mutually closed systems, each with the other system as its environment. Confronted with precisely the same subject, in direct opposition to the wording of Luhmann Bateson writes: "...we may ask whether a brain can think, and (...) the answer will be,'No'. What thinks is a brain inside a man who is part of a system which included an environment." (Ibid.) Generally speaking, Bateson's Mind and Nature with the subtitle "A Necessary Unity"

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was devoted to identifying a new way of thinking which emcompases natural, biological and social systems, with the explicate aim to unify our increasingly fragmented lives. He doesn't accept the drawing of a boundary line between the psychic and the social system, and he refuses the acceptance of a human "self' as a closed system. This is a basic difference which must be further analyzed in the years to come because the two different ways of thinking represent a fundamental inherent conflict in modern society.

Communication as Process

Now, finally, we arrive at a more concrete understanding and presentation of the process of communication. According to Luhmann, there are two major aspects of communication:
- communication is selective
- communication is self-referential.

First, Luhmann says that communication is a process of selection. Communication is tantamount to choosing something and ruling out something else. This means, as Luhmann states, that communication is tantamount to running a risk. "From the current horizon of references which is constituted by itself communication selects something and rejects something else." (Luhmann 1984 p. 194, my translation).

More specifically, communication develops through a process with three selections:

1. Selection of information. Here, Luhmann is inspired by Shannon:
    "Information is (...) selection from a (known or unknown)   repertoire of
    possibilities. (Luhmann 1984 p. 194, my translation)
2. Selection of utterance.
3. Selection of understanding (including misand non-understanding), i. e. acceptance.

This is close to the empirical experience of communication in everyday life: One part decides to say something (and thus not something else); then he or she decides to say so in a certain way; finally, the other decides to understand, to not understand or to misunderstand. One part decides to construct a meaning horizon, which is offered to the other part. With his or her decision of understanding or misunderstanding the other part puts the two parts in the same or in each their own horizon of meaning, or - with a deep sigh ("I don't understand a word of it") - he or she gives up to construct the other person's horizon of meaning in relation to his/her own.

In opposition to traditional "materialistic" communication models there is no "transportation" of information or consciousness, but forced selection. "This does not mean that communication carries consciousness along piece by piece. Instead, consciousness - regardless of what it would otherwise think - is manoeuvred by communication into a situation of forced choice." (Luhmann 1992 p. 258)

Second, communication is self-referential, It is only possible as a self-referential process, because understanding is not possible except through self-reference. This self-reference occurs at two levels: Partly there is the basic self-reference that communication must refer to already determined elements: concepts and relations which in the social subsystem of communication is always prespecified. 15 Partly there is the enlarged self-reference that communication continuously refers to itself, comments itself, is self-reflective. As has been said by the pragmatic linguist Watzlawick all communication is both communication and communication about communication.

Information and Antopoiesis

In a paper published in 1990 Helga Nowotny emphasizes the close relationship between the concept of autopoiesis and structural coupling, and the definition of information. A system is coupled to its environment - i.e. to other systems - not through input/output mechanisms such as transportation of information, but only through perturbation. "It is on the basis of its

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eigendynamics that the system decides how to cope with perturbations." (Helga Nowotny 1990 p. 230)

It follows from this that any system "...has its own distinctions as to what constitutes information and what not: information is a purely system-internal property. Information is not transferred from the environment to the system (the environment may at best hold "data"), for in order to constitute "information" some kind of distinction has to be made that allows the separation of "this", but "not that", that is, a boundary must be drawn so that self-observation becomes possible. (Helga Nowotny 1990 p. 230, my emphasis).

A similar definition can be found in many of Luhmann's writings. In his Essays of Self-Reference he states that "Information is an internal change of state, a self-produced aspect of communicative events and not something that exists in the environment of the system and has to be exploited for adaptive or similar purposes." (Luhmann 1990e p. 10). In his Soziologische Aufklarung 5 (where he discusses constructivism) he says that "A system which doesn't repress its own irritation, but observes and elaborates it, gives it the form of information. Information as well doesn't exist in the environment, but only in the system." (Luhmann 1990b p. 104, my translation) And in his paper "The Cognitive Program of Constructivism and a Reality that Remains Unknown" he argues that "...all distinctions and designations are purely internal recursive operations of a system (that is, operations that form or disturb redundancies). These are operations that are not able to go beyond the system and, as if at a distant remove, pull something into it. As a result, alll achievements following from these operations, above all what is usually called 'information', are purely internal achievements." (Luhmann 1990d p. 69)

However, this doesn't mean that the external world doesn't exist or that it only exists as the observer's construction. Constructivism doesn't aim at repeating old epistemological problems, but to articulate the process of human understanding in a way which actually matches the complicated state of affairs. "There is an external world which already follows from the fact that understanding can be made as a selfcontained operation; however, we do not have any direct access to the world. Understanding cannot reach the outside world without understanding. In other words, understanding is understanding as self-referential process. Understanding can only understand itself, even though through the corner of the eye - it can establish the fact that this is possible only in so far that something more exists than just itself." (Luhmann 1990c p. 33) Or, with a parallel expression: "There can be no doubt (...) that the external world exists or that true contact with it is possible as a necessary condition of the reality of the operations of the system itself. It is the differentiation of what exists that is contributed by the observer's imagination." (Luhmann 1990d p. 69) Again, the key concept is meaning: "Meaning is a representation of complexity. Meaning is not an image or a model of complexity used by conscious or social systems, but simply a new and powerful form of coping with complexity under the unavoidable condition of enforced selectivity. (Luhmann 1990e p. 84)

Thus, understanding isn't making copies, isn't representation of the external world in a system. On the other hand, to reduce constructivism to traditional solipsism or to idealistic subjectivism is to reduce important problems to slogans; and to start "wars" between "realism" and "idealism" is to reduce science to a street fight. In this context, constructivism isn't a solution to the question of existence, but it is, at least, a sensitive way to set the problem.

P. 18 Literature - References - Notes

Information as a Difference (in the Extental World)

In order to study the mathematical theory of communication and/or information one must of course begin with Claude E. Shannon and Warren Weaver (1948): The Mathematical Theory of Communication, The University of Illinois Press, Urbana, with Shannon's landmark paper and an introduction by Weaver. An easy-read introduction can be found in Shannon's own popular introduction:
Claude E. Shannon (1972): "information Theory". In Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 12, Chicago et al.

Some of Shannon's predecessors (representing the information acquisition argument) are: R.V.L. Hartley (1928): "Transmission of Information", in Bell System Tech. Journal, vol. 7, pp. 535-563 L. Szilard (1929): "Uber die Entropieverminderung in einem thermodynamischen System bei Eingriffen intelligenter Wesen", in Zeitschrift fur Physik, vol. 53, pp. 840-856. (translated into English in Leff and Rex, 1991) Hartley's argument was later summarized by Leon Brillouin, cf.
Leon Brillouin (1956): Science and Information Theory. Academic Press, New York.
The information erasure argument is presented by:
R. Landauer (1961): "Irreversibility and heat generation in the computing process", in IBM J. Res. Dev., 5, pp. 183-191 (reprinted in Leff and Rex, 1991)
Later, the argument has been clarified and developed by C. H. Bennett in a number of papers, cf.
C. H. Bennett(1973): "Logical reversibility of computation", in IBM J. Res. Dev. 17, pp. 525-532 (reprinted in Leff and Rex, 1991)
C. H. Bennett (1988): "Notes on the history of reversible computation", in IBM J. Res. Dev. 32, pp. 16-23 (reprinted in Leff and Rex, 1991)

The neg-entropy tradition:

Norbert Wiener (1961): Cybernetics, the MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts (first edition 1948)
Norbert Wiener (1950): The Human Use of Human Beings, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston
Leon Brillouin (1956): Science Information Theory. Academic Press, New York.
Tom Stonier's current bold update of the materialistic information theory is published as Tom Stonier (1990): Information and the Internal Structure of the Universe. Springer Verlag, London et al.

A number of sourcebooks have been collected, and I would particularly recommend the following four large collections: Waiter Buckley (ed.) (1968): Modern Systems Research for the Behavioral Scientist. Aldine Publishing Company, Chicago.
This book covers the field from mathematical information theory to cybernetics (including an article by Heinz von Foerster and the important paper by W. Ross Ashby which was first published in Foerster, H von and Zopf, G W (eds.) (1962) (see below).
Regarding mathematical information theory there is a very pedagogical introduction to Shannon's theory by George A. Miller and an early critical discussion by Anatal Rapport, cf. George A. Miller (1968): "What Is Information Measurement?", in ibid. pp. 123-128.
Anatol Rapoport (1968): "The Promise and Pitfalls of Information Theory", in ibid. pp. 137-142.
Tefko Saracevic (ed.) (1970): Introduction to Information Science. R.R. Bowker Company, New York & London.
The book contains 65 papers on the subject covering almost every aspect.
Fritz Machlup and Una Mansfield (eds.) (1983): The Study of Information. Interdisciplinary Messages. John Wiley & Sons, New York. From the latter I have benefited from two contributions in my paper:

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Myron Tribus (1983): "Thirty Years of Information Theory" in ibid. pp. 475-484
Donald M. MacKay (1983): "The Wider Scope of Information Theory", in ibid. pp. 485-492.
Finally, if you want to read the sources (and not just the lips), how do you get access to all the papers discussing the relationship between information and entropy? By buying (or borrowing) LefFs and Rex's collection of papers which seems to cover the whole history from Szilard (1929) to Bennett (1988), including an introduction which is understandable for non-mathematicians as well:
Harvey S. Leff and Andrew F. Rex (eds.) (1990): Maxwell's Demon. Entropy, Information, Computing, Adam Hilger, Bristol.

There are many popular introductions and/or discussions. A brief introduction is provided by Gordon Raisbeck, cf.
Gordon Raisbeck (1964): Information Theory. An Introduction for Scientists and Engineers. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Translated into German, cf. Informationstheorie. R. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munchen und Wien 1970.
A marx-leninist approach is represented by Peter Paul Kirschenmann (1970): Information and Reflection. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht.
A popular and highly qualified introduction is given by Tor Norretranders in
Tor Norretranders (1991): Maerk Verden (Feel the World), Copenhagen.
The book will be published in the U.S. (Ballantine), the U.K. Penguin), and Germany (Rohwolt),
Steve Helms' book about the cyberneticians has been praised, but I am a bit disappointed about his presentation of the information theory. He doesn't distinguish between Shannon's and Wiener's theories, but rather treats them as if they were identical, thus talking about ...Shannon's and (...) Wiener's equivalent definition of information" (Helms 1991 p. 112).

Steve Joshua Heims (1991): The Cybernetics Group, the MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts,and London.
In Helms's book about von Neumann and Norbert Wiener the subject of information theory isn't mentioned.
Steve Helms (1980): John von Neumann and Norhert Wiener, the MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London.

In addition to the critical works represented by the second order cybernetics (cf. below), Sybille Kramer-Friedrich has quite convincingly criticized the mathematical information theory, Kramer-Friedrich, S (1986): "Information Measurement and Information Technology: A Myth of the Twentieth Century", in: Mitcham, C and Huning, A (eds.): Philosophy and Technology II. Information Technology and Computers in Theory and Practice, Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht et al.
In addition, see my own critical summary, within a context of organizational communication theory:
Qvortrup, L (in print): "Telematics and Organizational Communication: Trends in Organizational Communication Theories", Andriessen, J.H. Erik and Roe, Robert A (eds): Telematics and Work, Lawrence Erlbaum Ass. Some early, but still relevant, notes of warning can be found in
Bar-Hillel, Y (1964): Language and Information: Selected Essays on Their Theory and Application, Addison ~Nesley, Reading, MA

Finally, the following two books on general linguistics discuss the mathematical information theory :
Colin Cherry (1978): On Human Communication. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Umberto Eco (1986): Semiotics and the Philosophy of Meaning. Indiana University Press, Bloomington

Information as a Difference which Makes a Difference

The primary sources are:
Jurgen Ruesch and Gregory Bateson (1968): Communication. The Social Matrix of Psy-

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chiatry, W.W. Norton, New York (first edition 1951)
Gregory Bateson (1972): Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Ballantine Books, New York
Gregory Bateson (1979): Mind and Nature. A Necessary Unity, E.P. Dutton, New York
Gregory Bateson (1991): Sacred Unity. Further Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Harper Collins, New York

Bateson's theory of communication (and information) is presented in chapter XII of
David Lipset (1980): Gregory Bateson: The Legacy of a Scientist, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs @p. 184-238)
In addition, I have found valuable contributions in
William K. Rawlins (1987): "Gregory Bateson and the Composition of Human Communication", in Research on Language and Social interaction, 20, pp. 53-77
Soren Brier (1992): "Information and Consciousness: A Critique of the Mechanistic Concept of Information", in Cybernetics & Human Knowing, Vol. 1, No. 2/3, pp.71-94

Niklas Luhmann and the Concept of Information

Luhmann's most comprehensive presentation of the theory of self-referential social systems can be found in
Luhmann, N (1984): Soziale Systeme. Grundriss einer allgemeinen Theorie
Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt a. M.
From the same period I would mention
Luhmann, N (1980, 1981, 1989): Gesellschaftsstruiktur und Semantik. Studien zur Wissenssoziologie der Modernen Gesellschaft, Ed. 1-3. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt a.M.
I would particularly recommend the programmatic chapter 4, "Wie ist soziale Ordnung moglich?" in vol. 2, pp. 195-286. In vol. 1 the first order cybernetic concept of information is touched upon, cf. pp. 297ff.
Recently, Luhmann published Die Wissenschaft der Gesellschaft. The title is ambiguous: it can be read "Society's science", or "social science". It is about the modern society as a functionally differentiated social system, and science as a sub-system of this general social system. The trend towards autonomy and self-organization of the sub-systems, including science, is analyzed. In addition, Luhmannn discusses the epistemology of constructivism:
Luhmann, N (1990a): Die Wissenschaft der Gesellschaft. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt a.M. Many other publications could be mentioned, but let me just refer to the five volumes of "Soziologische Aufklarung", which might be called Luhmann's "scientific workshop". Here, many of the topics in his gigantic work have been given a first analysis.
Luhmann, N (1970, 1975, 1981, 1987, 1990b): Soziologische Aufklarung, Ed. 1-5, Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen.
In the current context I would particularly recommend vol. 5 which is devoted to the discussion of the epistemology of constructivism. (See also Luhmann 1990d)

Finally, among Luhmann's publications a paper called "Wie ist Bewusstsein an Kommunikation beteiligt?" particularly discusses the concepts of information and communication (For English readers a concentrate can be found in Luhmann 1992): Luhmann, N (1988a): "Wie ist Bewusstsein an Kommunikation beteiligt?", in: Gumbrecht, H V and Pfeiffer, K L (Hg): Materialitat der Kommunikation, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt a. M.
The same subjects are touched upon in many other papers. Above, I have quoted from a paper about learning and from a paper primarily devoted to the concept of organization:
Luhmann, N (1986a): "Systeme verstehen Systeme", in Niklas Luhmann and Karl Eberhard Schorr (eds.): Zwischen Intransparenz und Verstehen: Fragen au die Padagogik. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt a. M.
Luhmann, N (1988b): "Organisation", in Willi Kupper and Gunther Ortmann (eds.): Mikropolitik, Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen

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To non-German readers, I would mention that some Luhmann texts have been published in English, among others
Luhmann, N (1982): The Differentiation of Society, Columbia University Press, New York
Luhmann, N (l986b): Love as Passion, Polity Press, Cambridge (translation from German)
Luhmann, N (1989): Ecological Communication, Polity Press, Cambridge (translation from German)
Luhmann, N (1990c): Essays on Self-Reference, Columbia University Press, New York. In addition to the books the following articles in English are relevant in the present context:
Luhmann, N (1990d): "The Cognitive Program of Constructivism and a Reality that Remains Unknown", in Wolfgang Krohn, Giinter Kiippers and Helga Nowotny (eds.): Self-organization. Portrait of a Scientific Revolution, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Boston, London
Luhmann, N (1992): "What is Communication?", in Communication Theory, vol. 2 No. 3

One of the first publications representing the change from Wiener's first order cybernetics is: Foerster, H von and Zopf, G W (eds.) (1962): Principles or Self-Organization, New York, This publication contains the stimulating transactions of the University of Illinois Symposium on Self-Organization, 8-9 june 1961 with interesting papers of Stafford Beer, Gordon Pask, W. Rosh Ashby and others.

Some of the classical publications of current second order cybernetics are:
Foerster, Heinz von (1980): "Epistemology of Communication", in Woodward, K: The Myths of Information, Madison, Wisconsin.
Foerster, H von (1984): Observing Systems, The Systems Inquiry Series, Intersystems Publications, California. (first edition: 1981)
Maturana, Humberto R. and Varela, Francisco J. (1980): Autopoiesis and Cognition. The Realization of the Living, Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht.
This book contains two of the classical contributions of Maturana and Varela: Maturana's Biology of Cognition from 1970 and Maturana's and Varela's Autopoiesis. The Organization of the Living from 1973. Particularly, I like the latter 70 pages article which was originally published as a book.
Maturana, H and Varela, F (1986): The Tree of Knowledge: Biological Roots of Human Understanding, Shambhala Publishers, London.
Varela, Franscisco J. (1981): "Describing the Logic of the Living. The Adequacy and Limitations of the Idea of Autopoiesis", in: Milan Zeleny (ed.): Autopoiesis. A Theory of Living Organization, North Holland, New York and Oxford

Immediately, the analysis of living systems and the concept of autopoiesis was transfornied into social science, cf.
Benseler, F, Hejl, P M and Koeck, W K (eds.) (1980): Autopoiesis, Communication and Society: The Theory of Autopoietic Systems in the Social Sciences, Campus Verlag, New York
Krippendorff, K (ed.) (1979): Communication and Control in Society, Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, New York
Zeleny, M (ed.) (1981): Autopoiesis: A Theory of Living Organization, New York

A basic point of second order cybernetics is, of course, that every system is observed by an observer, the observer being in itself a system. Reality is observed reality, and quite naturally this old and well-known problem (which actually wasn't reflected by first order cybernetics) has been reflected in linguistics as well. I would particularly like to mention some stimulating books by the American pragmatical linguist Paul Watzlawick:
Watzlawick, P., J. H. Beavin and D. D. Jackson (1967): Pragmatics of Human Communication, W.W. Norton, New York
Watzlawick, P, J. H. Weakland and R. Fisch (1974): Change: Principles of Problem For-

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mation and Problem Resolution, W. W, Norton, New York
Watzlawick, P (1976): How Real is Real? Random House, New York
Watzlawick, P (ed.) (1984): The Invented Reality, W.W. Norton, New York.
The latter book was first published in German (1981) and contains some interesting articles by von Foerster, Glasersfeld, Varela and others.

For several years, in Germany the idea of self-organized and self-referential organizations has been strong (cf. below). Two books have been published in English:
Ulrich, H and Probst, GJ B (1984): Selforganization and Management Social Systems, Springer Verlag, Berlin et al.
Krohn, W, Kuppers, G and Nowotny, H (eds) (1990): Selforganization. Portrait of a Scientific Revolution, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht et al.

Two introductory and/or discussion papers should be mentioned:
Soren Brier (1992): "Information and Consciousness: A Critique of the Mechanistic Foundation for the Concept of Information", in Cybernetics & Human Knnowing, Vol. 1, No 2-3
Wolfgang Krohn, Gunter Kuppers and Helga Nowotny (1990): "Selforganization - the Convergence of Ideas. An Introduction", in Wolfgang Krohn, Giinter Kiippers and Helga Nowotny (eds.): Selforganization. Portrait of a Scientific Revolution, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Boston, London

Finally, in the text I have referred to Soren Kierkegaard (1963): Sygdommen til deden. In: Samlede Vaeker, vol. 15, Gyldendal, Kobenhavn (first published 1848)


1.   Through the whole paper I've been heavily inspired by Soren Brier (1992). Also, my understanding of the controversy of information has been supported by the first part (which provides a summary of the mathematical concept of information) of Tor Norretranders (1991). This excellent book is about to be published in English. My special thanks go to Soren Brier as an enthusiastic, yet careful and patient editor of Cybernetics & Human Knowing, and to Michael Manthey from Aalborg University Centre who has critically commented the contents and language of an earlier version of the paper

2.   It has repeatedly been said that Shannon himself didn't think that his theory was a theory about information. It seems that it is Myron Tribus, who, in an interview with Shannon in 1961 launched the history of the naming of the theory of information: "I had asked Shannon what his personal reaction had been when he had realized he had identified a measure of uncertainty. Shannon said that he had been puzzled and wondered what to call his function. Information seemed to him to be a good candidate as a name, but it was already badly overworked. Shannon said he sought the advice of John von Neumann, whose response was direct, "You should call it 'entropy' and for two reasons: First, the function is already in use in thermodynamics under that name; second, and more importantly, most people don't know what entropy really is, and if you use the word 'entropy' in an argument you will win every time!" (Ibid. p. 476) Against the widespread opinion that Shannon himself didn't consider his theory a theory of information stands the article in Encyclopedia Britannica, op. cit. which he himself wrote: the title actually is "Information Theory" and Shannon several times uses this designation in the body of article. This opinion is supported by Anatol Rapoport who writes that "...the challenge of extending the concepts of information theory (...) is traceable to the writings of its founders." (Rapoport 1968 PĚ 137)

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3.   Cf. Tom Stonier: Information and the Internal Structure of the Universe, Springer Verlag, London et al. 1990. See also Murray Eden: "Cybernetics", in Fritz Machlup and Una Mansfield (eds.): The study of Information. Interdiscipliary Messages. John Wiley & Sons 1983, p. 433. Murray Eden mentions as well Ham Nyquist, who like Hartley (and Shannon) came from Bell Laboratories

4.   This is apparently closely related to NiLlas Luhmann's concept of information, cf. his analysis of meaning as the conditionality of social and psychic system, cf. later in this article

5.   As Steps to an Ecology of Mind contains a number of papers written within a long span of years (which explains some differences between the papers), it should be added that this quotation comes from the paper "Redundancy and Coding" from 1968

6.  This is clearly realized by Tor Norretranders, and Tom Stonier as well is explicit about this point. However, Steve Helms doesn't make a distinction between Shannon's or Wiener's information theories. On the contrary, he makes them identical. Thus he talks about "...Shannon's and (...) Wiener's equivalent definition of information", cf. Helms (1991) p. 112. See also p. 97. In the same author's book John von Newnann and Norbert Wiener, (1980), the subject isn't mentioned.

7.   What about the well-known question that information cannot possess material existence' because it disappears when we close our eyes or forget about it? Stonier's answer is that energy as well "disappears" when we push a button. For example, we switch out a light, but this doesn't make us think that electricity doesn't exist.

8.   Bateson's concept of information has recently been summarized by Soren Brier (1992) p.
I, Burl Grey, have added this link to the essay which is well worth reading. Warning: this file is about 95K.

9.    Actually, Luhmann signifies this close relationship as follows: "In the beginning we do not have identity, but difference. Only this makes it possible to apply information value to happenings (Zufallen) and in this way to build order; thus, information is not anything else than a happening that causes a combination of differences a difference that makes a difference. (Luhmann 1984 p. 112, my translation)

10.  This is noticed by Soren Brier (1992) p. 83. However, it is a bit confusing when Brier says that the Ruesch and Bateson book was originally published in 15)68 or 1967 (cf. p. 83 and p. 93). Actually, it was first published in 1951

11.    "Does this mean (...) - as is claimed in a direct from Maturana - that the cognitive system operates 'blindly'?" Luhmann asks, thus not totally acquitting Maturana (or his successors) from idealism (Luhmann 1990d p. 69)

12.   There is obviously a basic difference between Luhmann's concept "meaning" (Sim) and for example Max Weber's concept of "meaning", when the latter talks about "loss of meaning", "Sinnverlust". In Luhmam's theory, for systems that constitute meaning, everything has meaning, also so-called meaning-less things. Nothing that exists for us can be without meaning, "Sinnlos". In the work of Habermas the concept "meaning" plays a minor role. Here the focus is on "reason" as the representation of the demand for orientation in modern society. In this respect, Luhmam is an existential philosopher, while Habermas is a political philosopher. Regarding the concept of meaning see the whole chapter on "Meaning" in Luhmam 1984 pp. 92-147. Regarding the discussion of the concepts "meaningless", "meaningful", "loss of meaning" etc. see particularly pp. 109f Return

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13.    One should notice here the differences between Maturana's and Varela's metaphor for communication which is systemic interference, and Luhmann's which, after all, is more closely related to traditional communication metaphors

14.   Similarly, Luhmann in Soziale Systeme says that psychic systems are constituted on the basis of a self-referential relations of consciousness, while social systems are constituted on the basis of self-referential relations of communication (Ibid. p. 92). "The former operates on the basis of consciousness, the latter on the basis of communication. Both are self-referentially closed systems that are limited to their own mode of autopoietic reproduction. A social system cannot think and a psychical system cannot communicate." (Luhmann, 1992b, p. 257)

15.    These pre-specified concepts and relations are "culture" or "semantics". In every sub-system there exists "...a sort of supply of possible themes, which are ready for quick and for quickly understandable integration in concrete communicative processes. This supply of themes we call culture, and if it is only stored for communication purposes, it is called semantics." (Luhmann 1984 p. 224, my translation)