Translation’s functioning as re-entry is not a mechanic fl ip-fl op of the system/environment oscillation, but rather like a bootstrapping movement. Each new re-entry propels the system and the environment on and prompts their evolution. The concept of evolution, however, may be said to be a stumbling block for certain paradigms, such as functionalism in sociology, because if the social system has all the functions necessary for its existence in place, why would it evolve, i.e., leave its well-functioning condition in order to try to reach some other condition which may or may not prove to be as functionally effi cient? In other words, why would a functionally wellbalanced and viable system leave its functional ‘bliss’ of equilibrium and quest for something different? The key question bound to arise is: What is the propelling power behind the system’s evolution? As in the case of organisms, the classical theory of systemic evolution sees variation as a result of the endogenous causes (mutation) and selection as the need to adapt to the outside world, which is imposed by this world on the organism. Within the autopoietic turn (Knodt 1995, xx-iv), the systems theory asserts that autopoietic, self-referential systems are irritated by their environment, yet still retain a sizable degree of independence in that they cannot be forced to adapt to the world. Indeed, any existing system is already adapted well enough to be able to exist. There is no such thing as a better or worse adaptation: when adapted enough to exist, the organism is suffi ciently-fully-adapted. Yet this full adaptation does not mean that there is full correspondence between the complexity of the environment and the complexity of the system: the latter always reduces the complexity of the former. This gap between the system and its environment (and not adaptation) is suggested in the systems theory to be the decisive factor of systemic evolution. That explains the existence of organisms which remain unchanged over the course of natural history. They can afford their stability thanks to their autopoiesis. Environment is a pre-condition of the continuity of the system’s existence, but it can become incompatible with the autopoiesis of the system and then the system ceases to exist. Thus, the drive for variation in the social system should be explained by irritations of the environment-not by the instability of the system. The system reacts
to the irritations only based on what it can do within its autopoiesis. The system chooses to which of the irritations it would react and change its existing structures accordingly and which it will ignore.