A New Subsystem Called Ecology: A Way out of the Ecological Dilemma in Luhmann’s Ecological Communication

Friday, 20 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
Shaun BARTONE, U. New Brunswick, Fredericton NB Canada, USA
Abstract. Ecology is at the early stages of formation, not only as a scientific and moral discipline, but as a new functional subsystem, whose specialized purpose is to develop communications about the system/ environment difference for the whole social system. Historically, the discipline of ecology has always been both a social and natural science, thus enabling it’s specialized function to communicate the system/ environment difference. As both a social and natural science, it has the capacity to perform second-order observations of both the natural environment and the social system. Functionally it acts as a gateway between the environment and the social system that allows in certain kinds of information and translates it into a coded form of communication (fit/unfit) that other subsystems can comprehend. As such it mitigates the problem of the under-resonance and over-resonance of the social system to ecological crises. I will show that the development of the new subsystem ‘ecology’ is possible within all the parameters for the social system and its subsystems that Luhmann specifies in both Social Systems (1984) and Ecological Communication (1989). Not only is it possible, but it is necessary for the continued evolution of a social system whose closure from its environment and division into functional subsystems renders it unable to steer itself as a whole system in relation to its environment, which reduces it’s capacity to accurately adequately address threats from the environment. Without an apparatus to perceive and communicate threats from the environment, the social system threatens its own demise as a system. The new subsystem ecology is a functionally sufficient and rational subsystem that is capable of communicating the system/environment difference to society as a whole, thus ensuring its continued autopoiesis.