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Baecker - 2008 - Form and Forms of Communication(3)

Baecker - 2008 - Form and Forms of Communication(3)

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Published by: Felipe Padilla on Sep 12, 2010
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Dirk Baecker, Form and Forms of Communication
5. Design
5.1 EcologyThe sociological theory of communication as form describes a completely determinedcalculation of the social only under the condition that a location of the undetermined butdeterminable plays an indispensable role in this calculation (Laclau 1994). Without a constantshifting from the singular of form into the plural of forms and back again, we would not beprepared to talk of communication. That too is a form of introducing the undetermined andhence of stipulating degrees of freedom. We emphasise that we are talking of communicationonly on the level of what an observer sets out as an interpretation of two organisms in generaland of individuals in particular (von Foerster 2003: 247ff.). And we point out how we caninterprete the interaction of two organisms differently as well, for example asstimulus/response behaviour in the sense of Behaviourism (Skinner 1974), as the result of calculations of individual interest in the sense of the rational-choice model (Becker 1976), asa more or less subtle sublimating of Eros and the death instinct in the sense of laterpsychoanalysis (Freud 1989; Hertz 1985), or also as history, which is to be recountedvariously and variously renounced (Benjamin 1969: 253ff.; König 1967).We consider the distance between interaction, on the one side, and its interpretation, on theother, as essential, yet nevertheless point out that this too is one theoretical option amongothers. Hartmut Esser, for example, designs his model of sociological explication explicitly asa solution to the problem all previous sociology has not been able to solve, namelyestablishing a connection between structure and action, or respectively between thepreconditions, on the one side, and the consequences of human activity in society, on theother (Esser 1999: 1ff.). In that way, it might be possible to resolve the old oppositionbetween human individual and society. We, on the contrary, do not consider this oppositionactually central, and certainly not in the sense of Humanism, but, nonetheless, heuristicallyhelpful. In our theory, we opt for the space of action, for the “missing link” in whatever form,because it designates the place where the degrees of freedom are introduced, and doing that,as well as stipulating them, is what permanently occupies the social. From the starting pointderived from the theory of action for determining via a “logic of the situation” and a “logic of selection” against the background of a “logic of action,” that in addition differentiates itself less than might appear, as soon as the theory of action is prepared to begin not with action butwith selection (ibid.: 14 ff.). But that presumably will not work, because this would extendthe search governing the theory of action for “general” and “causal” laws ad absurdum.We consider the gap between structure and action, or respectively the free space forinterpretation when observing interaction, to be an indispensable aspect of the circumstance
 – 153 –
Dirk Baecker, Form and Forms of Communication
to be understood and explained. Solving the problem is one selection among possible otherselections and so it loses sight of presumably the most important circumstance, namely howselective selection is. The unsolved problem is, by contrast, in a position to observe everyconceivable selection against the background of a range of choice offering other possibleselections and to look at how and when and for whom every individual solution can then beconvincing all the same.The formula on the usefulness of unsolved problems (Baecker/Kluge 2003) seems suitablefor fulfilling the condition underlying Claude Shannon’s original insight into the selectivity of selection: “The system must be designed to operate for every possible selection, not just theone that will actually be chosen since this is unknown at the time of design”(Shannon/Weaver 1963: 31). We only need to exchange the technical assumption, anchoredin the concept of the machine or also of the robot to the effect that a system has first of all tobe fashioned, against the social assumption anchored in the concepts of self-organisation andautopoeisis to the effect that it has already fashioned itself and will always do so anew, aslong as reproducing itself succeeds, in order to be able to formulate the speculation that whatis processual and provisional about communication’s objective, temporal and social horizonsfulfils Shannon’s condition for system design. Every communication has to know what it isabout, how long we will probably hold onto it and who is involved in it, in order to comeabout at all. But at the same time it has to contain the observation that the topic can bechanged under certain circumstances, that past and future can be expanded or reduced, otherparticipants involved or current participants also excluded, as and when. Without this index of contingency, according to our thesis, we would not be dealing with communication but withcausality. If this index of contingency is a part of system design, then it produces enoughunrest, irritability and sensibility to be able to cope with all possible selections and not onlythe one just chosen. As long as which selections are possible for a system remains an openquestion, under the likewise associated condition of limiting them too, a system can alwaysrestructure itself to remain equal to possible selections.Social systems fulfil this condition, in as far as they do indeed successfully support andincorporate how their possibilities are technically determined in the framework of rituals,routines, processes, rules and machines for easing communication, yet do not confuse thisdetermination with their own selves. That is because a form is always social when it commitsto the interpretation of an interaction, which includes including excluded possibilities(Luhmann : chap. 1). That respectively applies to different degrees for topics, participants andtemporal perspectives. The design of a system aiming at possible selections has to includeexclusion in the form of being, according to the parameters of the system, capable of 
 – 154 –
Dirk Baecker, Form and Forms of Communication
correction, if not absolutely all the time, then nevertheless within expectations. In the sensehere intended, what the collective, science/academia, politics, economics and morality can do,as described by Bruno Latour, aims at designing a system, where practices of exclusion andthose of inclusion can be conducted in parallel (Latour 2004).All the same, we ought not to fool ourselves about the extent to which the rules of systemdesign are being re-set. As it concerns nothing less than justifying exclusion, even wheneloquent instances point it out, complain about it and suggest corrections, this suggestion farexceeds the formula of democracy the programme of modernity articulates as onlyconsidering universal inclusion justifiable. It corrects the actual politics, however much that isdenied, of excluding women, the sick, the insane, animals and machines, as it favours apolitics of acknowledged but variable exclusion, that is, it begins by not excluding exclusionany more but by including it (Luhmann 1995b: 138ff.). Bruno Latour assigns the moraliststhe task of nonetheless demanding the fundamentally impossible re-inclusion of what isexcluded, regardless of whether it concerns women in Islam, asylum-seekers in Europe oranimals in laboratories, and Jacques Derrida worked on an appropriate formula for justice(Derrida 1992), all the time underlining the impossibility of that.It is not superfluous to point out that here is also a correction for what Luhmanndiscovered as the modern asymmetry, which demands of society inclusivity whilst concedingexclusivity to every individual organisation, provided it can be presented as rational(Luhmann 1997: 844f.). In modernity, everyone belongs to society, but always only few toorganisations. That is the reason why there is only one society in modernity, but manyorganisations. Only one society is permitted to exist, because otherwise the exclusions, whichreally do exist, would become a problem; and many organisations have to exist, so thateveryone nevertheless has a chance at a job. The system design of modern society seems,however, to have exhausted its possibilities, for reasons still not clear. Our current interest inbureaucracy and organisation in the framework of reforming society is also an interest in howwe can learn from organisations to handle exclusions without abandoning the social demandof, at least in principle, reintegrating the excluded in relation to staff, customers and partners,but also in relation to products, programmes and profiles.Our point of departure, introducing and stipulating degrees of freedom, is at once abstractand concrete enough to examine every system design in the light of Shannon’s demand andalso to be able to vary it according to circumstances. This applies here in four respects, whichwe here once again collate under the headings of ecology, difference, fractals and design:1) The heading of ecology is meant to indicate that we interpret forms of communicationas forms which have to prove themselves according to the ecological rule of vicinity and for

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