The economics of the gift – the positivity of justice

The mutual paranoia of Jacques Derrida and Niklas Luhmann

in Critical theory and legal autopoiesis
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Niklas Luhmann and Jacques Derrida start with a common assumption in their analyses of the law and the economy: the foundational paradox of social institutions. After that autopoiesis and deconstruction move in opposite directions. Luhmann asks how de-paradoxification constructs the immanence of social institutions and builds a world of autopoietic social systems. Derrida’s thought aims at the transcendence of social institutions through their re-paradoxification. This chapter argues that there is a hidden supplementarity of autopoiesis and deconstruction which makes it worthwhile to relate the theories to each other. Derrida's distinction of writing/speech is blind to Luhmann’s distinction of consciousness/communication, but at the same time continuously provoked by it. Luhmann’s autopoiesis is permanently irritated by Derrida’s différance but at the same time unable to conceptualise it. This complementary blindness of their distinctions directrices is a source of mutual irritation which requires a reformulation of the social and of the possibility of justice.

Critical theory and legal autopoiesis

The case for societal constitutionalism

Editor: Diana Göbel

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