It is, in my perspective, quite a change from the metaphors explored on the AoH community and also a contribution to this work.
I'd love to explore this topic with you and others who might be interested. My skype: acuginotti
all the best,
I asked David, my best Luhmann friend, here his answer (in German).
He says, in a nutshell, Maturana speaks about life, Luhmann about communication.
For the rest, one would need to go deep into the evolution of systems theories...
Not sure if this is a simple answer, but you might find Democracy of Objects (available for download as a free pdf here) by Levi Bryant to be an interesting read. He bases a lot of his work on Luhman (amongst many others) and discusses autopoiesis in considerable depth.
The (very) short answer is that Luhmann is interested in systems equilibrium, Maturana et al in the dynamics of emergence. Luhmann as a sociologist comes out of the tradition of Talcott Parsons and focuses on the self-regulation and differentiation of social systems, whereas (as I understand it) Maturana and Varela are bringing together theoretical biology and cybernetics.
Hope that helps.
Attached is a rather technical paper by Geri Wittig entitled "Expansive Order: Situated and Expansive Knowledge Production in Network Space" which explores the relationship of Luhman's work to Maturana and Varela's as it pertains to social systems. Although it is not simple, perhaps you can draw from it what you need "in translation".
I may have other stuff on this from my doctoral dissertation, but I'll have to hunt it up.
Hope this can be supportive,
Enjoying all the new stuff popping up from this question. Now at home and searching further, this might be my best shot on touching your question - written after reading Ecological Communications.
Not sure I've got it right though... :) Comments appreciated.
Another source: The talks, interviews with Francesco Varela, Maturana, von Foerster and many others on "Monte Grande" and "francisco cisco pancho", two DVDs with a lot of interesting insights and ideas about autopoiesis and especially the shift third person - first person (see O. Scharmer). Deep insights.