Stefan Rossbach has a wonderful chapter in Observing International Relations: Niklas Luhmann and World Politics, edited by Mathias Albert & Lena Hilkermeir, 2004. The essay is titled “‘Corpus mysticum’: Niklas Luhmann’s Evocation of World Society.”
Rossbach, in discussing Luhmann’s links to early mystics and Gnosticism, has helped me realize why (despite the difficult, often dry reading) I felt an immediate affinity for Luhmannian theory. Back in the early 1980s, I was reading things like the Meister Eckhart, The Cloud of Unknowing, and St John of the Cross, as well as Zen Buddhism and other Eastern mysticisms. As a 20-year-old, I found St. John of the Cross‘s negative theology, or via negativa, particularly fascinating.
Contemplating the history of Western philosophy, Luhmann noted that 2,000 years of searching for “essence” had…
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