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Cinta de moebio

On-line version ISSN 0717-554X

Abstract

CALISE, Santiago. The concept of social memory as a problem for social system theory. Cinta moebio [online]. 2011, n.42, pp. 261-275. ISSN 0717-554X.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-554X2011000300003.

The concept of social memory is between those categories, which acquired more relevance in Niklas Luhmann’s theoretic production in the last years of his life. This concept is largely inspired in the memory function depicted by the English mathematician George Spencer Brown. Social memory tries to account for the own memory performance of society, which is independent from the memories of the psychic and neurophysiologic systems. This paper deals critically with this topic, focusing the attention on the operativity of the social memory, in order to observe to which questions it can answer. In addition, it will be carefully analyzed how Luhmann utilizes the Spencer Brown’s oscillator and memory functions, so to evaluate the consistency of Luhmann’s decision to include these concepts in his theory. It will also be of great importance to estimate if the German sociologist develops a theory of social memory with the capacity to get rid of the storage metaphor, as he expected to have done with this formulation.

Keywords : memory function; oscillator function; George Spencer Brown; semantic; self-descriptions.

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