Communication and Cognition: The Social Beyond Language, Interaction and Culture

  • Aldo MascareñoEmail author
Target Article


Cognition theories describe the social with terms like language, interaction or culture, whose theoretical status has also been discussed in modern sociology. These concepts are not well-positioned to understand the emergence and autonomy of social orders. Sociological theory of self-referential systems can be useful to reconstruct the bottom-up process which contributes to the emergence of the social as communication as well as to describe the way in which society exerts downward causation upon cognitive phenomena. The core of this theory is the systemic category of meaning as a shared horizon for psychic and social systems.


Social system Psychic system Meaning Symbolically generalized communication media Downward causation 



I would like to thank Dr. Agustín Ibáñez for his generosity with bibliographical references and his knowledge, Dr. Diego Cosmelli for his helpful critical remarks and Dr. Daniel Chernilo for several discussions on the theory of symbolically generalized communication media.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversidad Alberto HurtadoSantiagoChile

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