THERE – Theory and Empiricism of Religious Evolution: Foundation of a Research Program

5. Evolutionary Foundation of Systems Theory (fn)

Niklas Luhmann (e. g., (2002, 20.24-26 et pass.)), following George Spencer Brown (1979), refers to this process as re-entry. Religion is therefore based on an impredicative process, and the same applies for its scientific reconstruction. By means of the impredicative process, an element is defined by a quantity, which itself requires the existence of this element. The approach of the impredicative process is usually laid out as follows: “When a set M and a particular object m are so defined that on the one hand m is a member of M, and on the other hand the definition of m depends on M, we say that the procedure (or the definition of m, or the definition of M) is impredicative. Similarly, when a property P is possessed by an object m whose definition depends on P (here M is the set of the objects which possess the property P). An impredicative definition is circular, at least on its face, as what is defined participates in its own definition” (Kleene 1952, 42); in more formal words: “[…] a defined symbol a1 is called impredicative when an unrestricted operator with a variable to whose range of values a1 belongs, occurs in its chain of definitions” (Carnap 1937, 163). The argument that the impredicative process is a “vicious-circle principle” (Russell 1908, 237), is invalidated by Picard (1993); also cf. Carnap (1937, 162–165). It is not a matter of tautology, but a self-centering cognition: “[E]very successful application of an impredicative model is an abductive act of discovery” (Kercel and Mikulecky 2004, 103).

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