Narrative Self-Reference and the Assessment of Knowledge


  • Maximilian Roßmann Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)



The concept of narrative self-reference incorporates selected aspects of literary theory into the theory of self-referential systems. Since cybernetics and systems theory focus mainly on computer-aided metaphors and information, the narrative approach provides a better insight into meaning. Narrative self-reference is the simplified narrative self-image that reflects the system-environment relationship and thereby stabilizes the system. Because the narrative is continuously re-written, continued and entangled in different practices, it provides the flexibility against new and disappointed expectations, and the stability for accountability and planning. Theoretical examples of further institutional, technical, authoritarian and pragmatic dependencies for the constitution of psychic and social systems with means of narrative self-reference are discussed. In summary, this article reflects the negotiating power of narratives by creating system boundaries for collaboration and a common ground for the assessment of knowledge. From this perspective, “post-truth” is not a lack of scientific authority, but more a lack of the virtue of an adequate dealing with narratives.


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How to Cite

Roßmann, M. (2018). Narrative Self-Reference and the Assessment of Knowledge. Journal of Sociocybernetics, 15(2), 38–51.