Exploring the Work of Niklas Luhmann with GPT

Jump to the conclusion push here


I have tried to use GPT and Bard to learn more about the work of Niklas Luhmann.

No Details

I found out that both are consistent in their reaction but are also very general in their respons which means that you have to read the books are articles to know more.


This blog is an Experiment in Exploring.

It is the result of a Prompt I made to let GPT produce a concept-map of Niklas Luhmann.

After that i searched for video’s and used the video’s to find new concepts or interesting people, ask GPT to adapt my list and so on.

Last & 6th Iteration

This the last and sixth iteration.

Introduction to my Encounter with Luhmann

The previous blog was about Anticipating Systems.

This blog is about the work of Niklas Luhmann.

I bought the books of Luhmann a long time ago.

His work is to very difficult to understand.

He came back in my life a few days ago when I wrote about Anticipating Systems.

Fusion of In- and Outside.

This is an English explanation embedded in a Spanish introduction that shows how Luhmann is struggeling with the fusion of Autopoiesis and Laws of Form by Spencer Brown by incorporating “Comunication” as a channel between Inside and Outside where both are the same concept.


Mr Pires is not a good presenter but he knows a lot about Luhmann that’s why I searched for his papers and have posted one below.

Without any doubt searching the Internet produces much more information than GPT and BARD do where BARD is often very confused.


Anticipating systems are Self-Reproducing systems a concept called Autopiesis Klauss Luhmann borrowed from the biologists Varela and Maturana.

I used GPT to make both lists:

Major Influences of the work of Niklas Luhmann

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

German philosopher known for his dialectical method and philosophy of history. He emphasized the development of ideas and concepts through the confrontation of opposing thoughts (thesis and antithesis) that ultimately led to a synthesis.

Thesis and Anti-thesis are a Paradox: Look at George Spencer Brown.

Talcott Parsons:

American sociologist known for his structural-functional approach to society. He viewed society as a system of interdependent and functional elements that contribute to the maintenance of social equilibrium.

Émile Durkheim:

one of the founders of sociology and is considered one of the key figures in the development of structuralism. He emphasized the importance of social cohesion, norms, and values in understanding social structures and individual behavior in society

Ludwig von Bertalanffy

a biologist known for his theory of General Systems \Theory. His concept has evolved into Cybernetics and later Complexity Theory. For more information push here.

George Spencer-Brown:

British mathematician known for his work “Laws of Form.” He developed a theory of symbolic logic and the mathematical notation of creating and manipulating symbols.

My blog about Anticipating systems is partly about George Spencer Brown: Push this link.

Map of Concepts of the Work of Niklas Luhmann

1 Autopoiesis: Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela,

. Connected with Self-production

. Characteristic of social systems

. Systems maintain themselves through autopoiesis

2 General System Theory: Ludwig von Bertalanffy,

. Used as a framework for understanding complex systems

. Connections between biological, physical, and social systems

. Emphasized holism, Self-organization, and Feedback

3 Communication: Jurgen Habermas, Paul Watzlawick, Gregory Bateson

. Fundamental process in social systems

. Symbolic interaction Creates and sustains social systems

4 Functional differentiation: Talcott Parsons and Émile Durkheim,

. Modern societies are highly differentiated

. Various subsystems (economy, politics, law, etc.)

. Each subsystem has its own logic and communication codes

5 Symbolic Logic: George Spencer-Brown

. Application of symbolic logic to social phenomena

. Investigated logical relationships in communication and observations

. Influenced understanding of communication processes in social systems

6 Observational theory Friedrich Nietzsche, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger

. Observers construct reality

. Different perspectives and interpretations

. Observations create their own reality

7 Paradox: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

. Simultaneous ordering and ongoing change

. Social systems cope with paradoxes

. Order and stability amidst complexity

8 Decisions: Herbert Simon

. Theory of decisions

. Social systems reduce complexity through decision-making

.Based on selective observation


Martin Heidegger

urgen Habermas

Emil Durkheim

Scott Parsons

Paul Watzlawick

Gregory Bateson

Concept-map of Gregory Bateson

Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)

Concepts: Process philosophy, interconnectedness of events and processes in nature. Interconnection: Whitehead’s process philosophy emphasized the continuous change and interdependence of events. This idea of dynamics and interconnectedness inspired Bateson to examine interactions within complex systems: see my blog about anticipating systems

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)

Concepts: Philosophy of language and meaning, language games. Interconnection: Wittgenstein’s emphasis on the role of language in human interactions and understanding the world laid a foundation for Bateson’s approach to communication and meaning.

Margaret Mead (1901-1978)

Concepts: Cultural anthropology, gender studies, field research. Interconnection: Bateson collaborated with Margaret Mead in their research on Balinese culture, studying the role of cultural patterns and communication. Her influence on Bateson revolved around understanding cultural influences on human behavior and communication.

Norbert Wiener (1894-1964)

Concepts: Cybernetics, communication, and regulation in systems. Interconnection: Wiener’s work on cybernetics highlighted the importance of feedback mechanisms and communication in the functioning of systems. Bateson drew from these ideas to investigate communication patterns in human relationships.

Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901-1972)

Concepts: General Systems Theory, holism. Interconnection: Von Bertalanffy’s Systems Theory emphasized understanding complex systems as a whole, with the interaction between parts being central. Bateson integrated this holistic approach into his study of communication patterns in social and ecological systems.

William James (1842-1910)

Concepts: Pragmatism, experience, and consciousness. Interconnection: Bateson appreciated William James’ pragmatism, focusing on the experience and consciousness of individuals as essential aspects of their interactions in the world. see my blog about the geometry of change.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

Concepts: Psychoanalysis, development of personality, unconscious influences. Interconnection: Although Bateson was critical of some aspects of psychoanalysis, he drew inspiration from Freud in examining family dynamics and communication patterns within the family.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and Rachel Carson (1907-1964)

Concepts: Evolution, ecology, unity of mind and nature. Interconnection: Both Darwin and Carson contributed to the understanding of evolution and the interconnectedness of all living beings and their environment. This ecological perspective influenced Bateson’s ideas about the unity of mind and nature.


“Function and Structure: An Outline of Integrale Sociology”: This book examines the relationship between functions and structure in society and introduces Luhmann’s early ideas on the importance of differentiation in social systems.

“Politics and the Social System”: In this work, Luhmann analyzes the relationship between political systems and the broader society, emphasizing how political decision-making and communication function.

“Love as Passion: The Codification of Intimacy”: Luhmann explores the concept of love, arguing that it is communicated and shaped through complex interactions between individuals and is a social construct.

“The Differentiation of Society”: In this significant work, Luhmann addresses the process of societal differentiation, where various functional subsystems emerge, such as law, politics, economy, and religion, operating relatively autonomously.

“Observations on Modernity”: Luhmann examines the social and cultural developments characteristic of modern society, such as individualization, secularization, and globalization.

“Ecological Communication”: In this work, Luhmann explores the concept of ecological communication, looking at how communication and meaning formation work in interaction processes.

“The Science of Society”: Luhmann presents his approach to sociology as a scientific discipline and explains how his system theory is applied to studying society. “Essays on Self-Reference”:

This book contains a collection of essays in which Luhmann delves deeper into self-reference, a crucial concept in his system theory, and how it applies to social phenomena.

“Art as a Social System”: Here, Luhmann examines art as an autonomous social system and considers how artworks generate their own meaning within the societal context.

“Social Systems”: This comprehensive work fully expounds Luhmann’s social system theory, explaining the role of communication, autopoiesis, and functional differentiation in social systems.

“Organization and Decision”: Luhmann explores the structure and functioning of organizations, with specific attention to decision-making processes within them. “Introduction to Systems Theory”: This book is an introduction to the general concept of system theory, providing an overview of its key principles and concepts.

“Theories of Distinction: Redescribing the Descriptions of Modernity”: Luhmann reflects on literary works and presents his critical analysis of modern society.


Without any doubt Luhmann was fascinated by the concept of Autopoiesis of Varela and Maturana.

With the use of the General Systems theory of Von Bertalanffy he applied it everywhere.

Systems and people communicate and communication is paradoxical.

Here you see Habermas, Paul Watzlawick and Bateson and later the logic of George Spencer Brown.

Without any doubt Luhmann was producing huge texts with a tremendous speed in German.

That’s why his “fame” never reached the English-speaking world with an interesting exception of India which tells something about him and India (“Male”, authorial).

Return to beginning push here.