In his book Large graphs and graph limits, mathematician and Abel prize winner László Lovász says on page 4:

We can say that the whole universe is a single (really huge, possibly infinite) network, where the nodes are events (interactions between elementary particles), and the edges are the particles themselves.

For non-physicists this may sound strange at first sight, because one would think of the universe as a network where the nodes are particles, and the edges are interactions between them. But it is important to understand, why this change of point of view (considering interactions as nodes and particles as edges) was fruitful.

On the other hand, Lovász describes social networks, especially the acquaintance graph, traditionally: the nodes being people, and the edges being interactions or relations between people. But there are non-traditional views on social networks or societies. I vaguely remember to have read that Niklas Luhmann or Jürgen Habermas have said something like "Societies are primarily communications" and always thought of this in a graph-theoretic sense: the (primary) nodes are communicative interactions, and the (secondary) edges are people. In perfect analogy to what Lovász said about the universe.

Can anyone give me a specific quote where some philosopher or sociologist has said so, in a condensed way as Lovász did with respect to the universe?

  • See also System theory in social sciences: "according to Rudolf Stichweh (2011): Since its beginnings the social sciences were an important part of the establishment of systems theory... [T]he two most influential suggestions were the comprehensive sociological versions of systems theory which were proposed by Talcott Parsons since the 1950s and by Niklas Luhmann since the 1970s." Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 11:36
  • Maybe useful The System Theory of Niklas Luhmann for references. Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 11:40
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    Note that this is simply talking about the edge graph (aka line graph) of a graph en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_graph#Example So it's not something incredibly deep. Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 14:00
  • @Fizz: Fair enough, but usually one has good reasons to consider the edge graph instead of the original graph. Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 14:09
  • Assemblage Theory, there is a wikipedia entry; found it when looking up Manuel DeLanda's bibliography; originally from Deleuze and Guattari work about the "rhizome"...
    – sand1
    Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 18:03


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