Complexity and Individual Psychology

Yakir Levin, Itzhak Aharon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In this paper we examine the question of whether complexity-like explanations can be applied to the psychology of individuals, and its implications for the scope of complexity explanations of social phenomena. We start by outlining two representational-cum-computational models of the mind—a symbolic model and a networks or connectionist one—and their pros and cons. Based on this we then outline a radical, non-representational and non-computational alternative model that has been gaining ground recently, and which has significant affinities with complexity explanations in social science. Deploying neo-Kantian considerations, we then argue that due to the discursivity, or conceptual dimension of our cognitive system, the radical alternative must be incorrect insofar as humans are concerned. Indeed, human psychology must involve, at least partly, a representational understanding of the sort provided by the symbolic model. Relatedly, we show how the discursiviry of human cognition complicates our psychology and makes it difficult to account for. Finally, we briefly address the question of how the complicated nature of individual psychology, implied by human discursivity, may affect complexity explanations of social behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-219
Number of pages17
JournalMind and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • Classic cognitive science
  • Complexity
  • Computation
  • Connectionism
  • Dynamical systems theory
  • Embodied cognition
  • Representation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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