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Complexity and individual psychology


  • Yakir Levin


  • Itzhak Aharon



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. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Suggested Citation

  • Yakir Levin & Itzhak Aharon, 2015. "Complexity and individual psychology," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 14(2), pages 203-219, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:minsoc:v:14:y:2015:i:2:p:203-219
    DOI: 10.1007/s11299-015-0171-2

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