1 Department of Information and Media Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Aarhus University, Aarhus University2 School of Communication and Culture - Media Studies, School of Communication and Culture, Arts, Aarhus University3 School of Communication and Culture - Media Studies, School of Communication and Culture, Arts, Aarhus University
Luhmann (2002, 275), in his introduction to the systems theory, explicitly writs, that language is the mechanism behind the structural coupling between psychic – and social systems. This paper, in its first part, provides an interpretative and selective presentation of Luhmann’s argumentation for how the structural coupling is possible through the medium of language. The paper put forward an angle on the subject, which makes it probable that language let the two levels of systems formation emerge, because it enables their respective self-reference, so they can maintain themselves as operationally closed systems, which at the same time are cognitively open to each other through meaning. Consequently it is the medium of language that is the nurse, or as Luhmann (1999, 225) puts it, the muse of society, and following an overview angle on Luhmann’s argumentation, language is also the nurse of the becoming of the psychic self. After this becoming other media of communication, as mechanisms behind the structural coupling, through the history of evolution has made a continuous increase of complexity, on both sides of the distinction between the psychic and the social, possible. This would be too much to elaborate for this paper, why it in its second part focuses on the psychic system. It tries to elaborate how, not only language, but also later media, through the history of evolution, generate the contemporary self. In doing that the paper describes five media revolutions (speech, writing, printing, electronic media and digital media) and claims that each and one added medium extents the structural coupling, providing higher psychic reflexivity through the extended social complexity and vice versa. In this part the article also put forward an analysis of the different levels of self-reflexivity the selves in each respective historical medium-society has had, and suggests a name for each of them, with reference to the media-environmental scoop for and demand for self-reflexivity.