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Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory loans some of its fundamental concepts and positions from Chilean biologists Umberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, adapting their application from the realm of life and living things to the social sphere. What results is a radical change in the thinking of social relations that shakes not only traditional philosophical notions but some universal ones as well. Society, for example, is no longer a collection of interacting individuals; threatened is the very notion of man – in its traditional sense of functional unity. Such shifts in viewpoint that move away from thinking about the human being as a closed and autonomous entity towards understanding him/her more as a conglomeration of systems fit in well with the general effort of contemporary philosophy to loosen the concept of “subject”. Systems theory, in this sense, creates a very favorable climate for cultivating various forms of posthumanism, seeking to escape from the hidden premise of anthropocentrism. Against this background, the paper will try to imagine the direction the understanding of the relationship between humans and animals could go, if enriched with the transforming role of systems theory. The focus will be put on whether it is possible to talk about the relationship between humans and other animals in a non-anthropocentric way, where a clear distinction between man and animal is not a matter of paramount importance and where there is room – at least in theory – for a non-hierarchical view on the various representatives of living nature.
Keywords: systems theory, autopoiesis, animal, man, human–animal relationship, anthropocentrism, posthumanism, Niklas Luhmann, Humberto Maturana, Francisco, Varela, Jacob von Uexküll.
Casting a panoramic glance at the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, we cannot but agree that jolting of viewpoints taken for granted by his contemporaries remains an unwavering motif in the German philosopher’s thinking. His destabilizing ethos, however, is not an end in itself - it only clears the way for a transformation of values to take place. An interesting question that arises with regards to this reassessment is to what extent it manages to meet the requirements of its creator and whether it succeeds in avoiding those same delusions it tries to be a remedy of. In an attempt to account for some of the tension points in this transition to the values of the future, this article will trace it, focusing on the concept of will.