Calise, S. 2011. El Concepto de Memoria Social como Problema para la Teoría de Sistemas Sociales. Cinta moebio 42: 261-275


The concept of social memory as a problem for social system theory

Mg. Santiago Calise ( Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani, CONICET (Buenos Aires, Argentina).


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.

Key words: memory function, oscillator function, George Spencer Brown, semantic, self-descriptions.

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Cinta de Moebio
Revista de Epistemología de Ciencias Sociales
ISSN 0717-554X