Why Observers?

With the realization in mind that a notion of a multitude of non-person observers in society is rather unintuitive and requires in-depth explanations in most cases (one of which I attempt in this blog), why would we even start such a complicated endeavor in the first place? Why not just stick with the seemingly obvious notion of statements about the reality of society?

My personal answer is that the attempt is motivated by the concern that if observers remain unobserved, the notion of objectivity becomes plausible. This can lead to a situation where statements are postulated as equally binding for every possible addressee, without requiring any responsibility from the originator of the statement. In this blog, I will analyze such statements in an attempt to make explicit some underlying social structures which point back towards the observer of a statement that was supposed to be objective. Of course, all of this has already been explained to us by Heinz von Foerster. Yet, unimpressed, society and primarily language endorse statements that claim to be objective, and they also mostly neglect the social preconditions on which such statements are built.

This is not intended as a naive attempt to change the way society behaves. Instead, the focus is on adding another observer perspective, no more important than any other, but one that is directed towards the social functioning of the preconditions that lead to statements in society. The observer is, then, the ultimate precondition for a statement, yet he fascinatingly manages to stay out of the picture in many social phenomena. Presumably, this paradox is no accident, but indeed servers powerful social functions. We will come back to this later.


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