The Problem of Order and the Specter of Chaos

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2014
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Behemoth : A Journal on Civilisation. 2014, 7(1), pp. 140-157. ISSN 2191-7582. eISSN 1866-2447. Available under: doi: 10.6094/behemoth.2014.7.1.776
Zusammenfassung

Social theory seems predominantly occupied with the question of how and why social order exists. Often, this question presupposes an improbability of order and a primordiality of chaos. Systems Theory is a paradigmatic case, and provides a particularly clear articulation of this presupposition of disorder and chaos. This is demonstrable in Talcott Parsons and Niklas Luhmann’s appropriation of Hobbes, which – mistakenly, as I will argue – attributes pride of place to the concepts of fear, war and chaos in Hobbes’ theory. I turn to Henri Bergson’s early criticism of the underlying logic behind the ‘problem of order’ to explain the assumptions behind and limitations to the presuppositions of Systems Theory. Finally, by comparing Émile Durkheim’s analysis of Darwin’s theory of evolution to Parsons’ reading of Darwin, I show why the ‘problem of order’ need not be the fundamental question for social theory. I will conclude this discussion by arguing that social theory would be well advised to move beyond the problem of order that proceeds from the implicit assumption of a primordial disorder.

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Fachgebiet (DDC)
300 Sozialwissenschaften, Soziologie
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Ordnung, Chaos, Systemtheorie, Henri Bergson, Invention
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ISO 690SEYFERT, Robert, 2014. The Problem of Order and the Specter of Chaos. In: Behemoth : A Journal on Civilisation. 2014, 7(1), pp. 140-157. ISSN 2191-7582. eISSN 1866-2447. Available under: doi: 10.6094/behemoth.2014.7.1.776
BibTex
@article{Seyfert2014Probl-29767,
  year={2014},
  doi={10.6094/behemoth.2014.7.1.776},
  title={The Problem of Order and the Specter of Chaos},
  number={1},
  volume={7},
  issn={2191-7582},
  journal={Behemoth : A Journal on Civilisation},
  pages={140--157},
  author={Seyfert, Robert}
}
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