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Talcott Parsons on Language - Dictionary of Arguments

Habermas IV 388
Language/Parsons/System Theory/Habermas: Parsons initially adopted the concept of language in the sense of a medium used by cultural anthropology, which enables intersubjectivity and carries the consensus of values relevant to normative orders. With this, he explained what it means that actors share value orientations. These participations served as a model for the common possession of cultural values and for the collective commitment to a normative order. (1)
Habermas IV 389
Problem: if money and power as control media are to represent a generalization of language, the culturalist concept of language is inadequate: 1. It is then no longer about the kind of common ground that represents the inter-subjectivity of linguistic communication, but rather about a structure of code and message. 2. The question of systematic localisation of linguistic communication is not solved.
For Parsons, language initially seemed to belong to the cultural system: as the medium through which traditions propagate. However, the cross-system mechanisms of institutionalisation and internalisation had already suggested the question of whether language is not generally central to the action system and must be analysed at the same level as the concept of action.
IV 390
Two strategies are possible: A. Analysis of language at the level of communicative action: this can be linked to linguistics and language philosophy. However, this is not possible if you follow the second strategy: B. One undermines the level of language and action theory investigations and analyses the mechanism of linguistic communication only from the functionalist point of view of system formation. Luhmann follows this strategy: one would not construct a theory of the action system from an analysis of action with the addition of general system-theoretical aspects...; one would use general system-theoretical construction considerations to derive from them how...systems constitute actions. (2)


1. T. Parsons, Social Systems and the Evolution of Action Theory, NY 1977, S.168
2. N. Luhmann, Handlungstheorie und Systemtheorie, Ms Bielefeld 1977.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

ParCh I
Ch. Parsons
Philosophy of Mathematics in the Twentieth Century: Selected Essays Cambridge 2014

ParTa I
T. Parsons
The Structure of Social Action, Vol. 1 1967

ParTe I
Ter. Parsons
Indeterminate Identity: Metaphysics and Semantics 2000

Ha I
J. Habermas
Der philosophische Diskurs der Moderne Frankfurt 1988

Ha III
Jürgen Habermas
Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns Bd. I Frankfurt/M. 1981

Ha IV
Jürgen Habermas
Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns Bd. II Frankfurt/M. 1981


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