from University of Tokyo 1S Law and Society

By the way, what is a “system” that Luhmann talks about?

A system is the difference between system and environment.

  • A system is a chain of “distinguishing and indicating actions” that differentiate between the internal and external.
  • By repeatedly making distinctions, the system gradually emerges.

A system is formed by the chain of “distinguishing and indicating actions” (also known as communication, operation, observation).

  • Binary codes:
    • Communication that distinguishes between the two options of a binary opposition.
    • Examples:
      • The economic system is formed by the chain of communication between “paying” and “not paying”.
      • The legal system is formed by the chain of communication between “legal” and “illegal”.
      • The political system has a binary code of approval/disapproval.
      • The academic system has a binary code of true/false.
    • It’s understandable what they are saying, but it’s unclear what they are talking about.
      • Is this a simplified explanation of reality, or is it saying that reality tends to be binary?
      • It seems to be the former, explaining how one aspect of reality is captured as a system.


  • Communication consists of “information” (content) and “transmission” (context).
    • For example, the “distinguishing and indicating action” of saying “Your act is illegal” has the information of “illegal” and the context of legal interpretation.
    • But isn’t the understanding of “illegal” separate from the shared knowledge?
  • The difference between information and transmission is understood.
    • I don’t quite understand the meaning of this.
      • If it means that the combination of “transmitted content” and “context” is understood, then I get it.
      • But I don’t understand how the difference between “transmitted content” and “context” is transmitted.
    • I asked the professor and it seems I misunderstood.
      • It doesn’t mean that the difference is transmitted.
      • In communication, the listener understands that there is a difference between the assertive elements (the content of the information being conveyed) and the performative elements (what the speaker intends to do by conveying it).
      • Then, information and context combine to be transmitted.
      • That’s what it means.


  • It is something that exists to distinguish the binary code.
  • In the legal system, it would be the legal provisions (legal propositions).

The distinction between “legal” and “illegal” in the legal system and the distinction between “internal” and “external” in the system are not related.

  • They are unrelated.

In terms of programming,

  • There is a protocol for the binary code, and two nodes communicate.
    • The information communicated is processed by the recipient based on the context at that time.
    • The repetition of this communication is the system, something like that.