O. THYSSEN (1995, P. 13) characterizes as follows the way LUHMANN (1927-1998) extends the concept of autopoiesis: "LUHMANN generalizes the concept to cover not only living systems, but also mental and social systems. Whereas living systems operate in the medium "life", mental systems operate in the medium "consciousness" and social systems in the medium "communication". According to LUHMANN, a social system does not consist of human beings or artifacts. It consists of an ongoing stream of communication ". THYSSEN has some problems with these views: "An autopoietic system is closed "(Note: i.e. organizationally closed) "It has no contact with the environment"(Note: it is however structurally coupled with it. Is that not a "contact"?)
THYSSEN adds: "A disturbing consequence is that mental and social systems are totally distinct. No analysis of consciousness will ever reveal anything about brain processes, which are the domain of living systems"
One wonder if it is not the reverse: could not brain processes reveal something about consciousness. And: "Another disturbing consequence is that LUHMANN has no place for the individual. This point is methodological, not normative or "antihumanistic".(Ibid)
MAN is a very diffuse idea allowing references to many different systems which do not have MAN as an element and which do not form a unity: no supersystem encompasses living, mental and social systems. So what is MAN depends on who is observing and how. KORZYBSKI (1879-1950) could have said it: MAN is a high level abstract "label" that should be used very carefully.
The hinge of the problem is obviously that any social system depends on individual observers in two complementary ways:
1- In any activity the structural coupling with the environment of the social system is through individuals (which make a kind of porous frontier with the environment)
2- The internal autopoietic behavior of the system as a whole depends on myriads of inter individual structural couplings as observers of each others