The complexsystems approach (CSA) to characterizing cognitive function is purported to underlie a conceptual and methodological revolution by its proponents. I examine one central claim from each of the contributed papers and argue that the provided examples do not justify calls for radical change in how we do cognitive science. Instead, I note how currently available approaches in ‘‘standard’’ cognitive science are adequate (or even more appropriate) for understanding the CSA provided examples.
The arts are one of the most complex of human endeavours, and so it is fitting that a special issue on ComplexSystems in Aesthetics and Arts is being published. As the editors of this special issue, we would like to thank the reviewers of the submitted papers for their hard work in making this issue possible, as well as the authors who submitted their work and were very responsive to the comments of the reviewers and editors.
Despite the close connection between the central limit theorem and renormalization group (RG) methods, the latter should be considered fundamentally distinct from the kind of probabilistic framework associated with statistical mechanics, especially the notion of averaging. The mathematics of RG is grounded in dynamical systems theory rather than probability, which raises important issues with respect to the way RG generates explanations of physical phenomena. I explore these differences and show why RG methods should be considered not just calculational tools (...) but the basis for a physical understanding of complexsystems in terms of structural properties and relations. (shrink)
Part I [sections 2–4] draws out the conceptual links between modern conceptions of teleology and their Aristotelian predecessor, briefly outlines the mode of functional analysis employed to explicate teleology, and develops the notion of cybernetic organisation in order to distinguish teleonomic and teleomatic systems. Part II is concerned with arriving at a coherent notion of intentional control. Section 5 argues that intentionality is to be understood in terms of the representational properties of cybernetic systems. Following from this, section (...) 6 argues that intentional control needs to be seen as a particular type of relationship between the system and its environment. (shrink)
Ecologist Richard Levins argues population biologists must trade‐off the generality, realism, and precision of their models since biological systems are complex and our limitations are severe. Steven Orzack and Elliott Sober argue that there are cases where these model properties cannot be varied independently of one another. If this is correct, then Levins's thesis that there is a necessary trade‐off between generality, precision, and realism in mathematical models in biology is false. I argue that Orzack and Sober's arguments (...) fail since Levins's thesis concerns the pragmatic features of model building not just the formal properties of models. (shrink)
Consciousness has been the bone of contention for philosophers throughout centuries. Indian philosophy largely adopted lived experience as the starting point for its explorations of consciousness. For this reason, from the very beginning, experience was an integral way of grasping consciousness, whose validity as a tool was considered self-evident. Thus, in Indian philosophy, the question was not to move from the brain to mind but to understand experience of an individual and how such an experience is determined through mental structures (...) (and secondarily, the preoccupation with the brain and its relation to the mind). In contrast, cognitive science (the study of mind and cognition through 1 interdisciplinary methods, with emphasis on computational methods) found its debates soaked in discussion which primarily involved the brain and mind. Experience was not considered a primary source of information and its validity had to be established to consider it a source of information of mind. With the rise of physicalism and realization that mental states are correlative to brain states, the body was virtually neglected from involvement in understanding the mind and the attempts to reduce mind to the brain were rampant. The inability to explain subjective experience of an individual through neuroscientific findings alone has urged philosophers to explore other ways of understanding the ontology of mind. Over the last few years, embodied cognition and enactive approach have brought back the body as a central participant in this debate, providing fertile grounds to explain the relation of brain, body and mind. This paper proposes that we understand the brain as a complex system from which the mind emerges. This emergence is marked by the development of novel property of self-consciousness in human beings. The mind is a process which is embedded throughout the body and thus, the body acts as an actualizing medium for the individual. Thus, the brain is a necessary condition for the mind to be while the mind is embedded throughout the body. The brain and mind are in reciprocal causal relationship with one another, as is the body and environment with one another. In this paper, embodied cognition is understood through principles of Merleau Ponty's idea of embodiment, than through Andy Clark and Francis Varela's alone. (shrink)
Complexsystems research is becoming ever more important in both the natural and social sciences. It is commonly implied that there is such a thing as a complex system, different examples of which are studied across many disciplines. However, there is no concise definition of a complex system, let alone a definition on which all scientists agree. We review various attempts to characterize a complex system, and consider a core set of features that are widely (...) associated with complexsystems in the literature and by those in the field. We argue that some of these features are neither necessary nor sufficient for complexity, and that some of them are too vague or confused to be of any analytical use. In order to bring mathematical rigour to the issue we then review some standard measures of complexity from the scientific literature, and offer a taxonomy for them, before arguing that the one that best captures the qualitative notion of the order produced by complexsystems is that of the Statistical Complexity. Finally, we offer our own list of necessary conditions as a characterization of complexity. These conditions are qualitative and may not be jointly sufficient for complexity. We close with some suggestions for future work. (shrink)
Ecologist Richard Levins argues population biologists must trade-off the generality, realism, and precision of their models since biological systems are complex and our limitations are severe. Steven Orzack and Elliott Sober argue that there are cases where these model properties cannot be varied independently of one another. If this is correct, then Levins's thesis that there is a necessary trade-off between generality, precision, and realism in mathematical models in biology is false. I argue that Orzack and Sober's arguments (...) fail since Levins's thesis concerns the pragmatic features of model building not just the formal properties of models. (shrink)
Using the concept of adjunction, for the comprehension of the structure of a complex system, developed in Part I, we introduce the notion of covering systems consisting of partially or locally defined adequately understood objects. This notion incorporates the necessary and sufficient conditions for a sheaf theoretical representation of the informational content included in the structure of a complex system in terms of localization systems. Furthermore, it accommodates a formulation of an invariance property of information communication (...) concerning the analysis of a complex system. (shrink)
So far, the sciences of complexity have received less attention from philosophers than from scientists. Responding to Salthe’s (Found Sci 15, 4(6):357–367, 2010a ) model of evolution, I focus on its metaphysical implications, asking whether the implications of his canonical developmental trajectory (CDT) must be materialistic as his reading proposes.
Here, for the first time, development studies encounters the set of ideas popularly known as 'Chaos Theory'. Samir Rihani applies to the processes of economic development, ideas from complex adaptive systems like uncertainty, complexity, and unpredictability. Rihani examines various aspects of the development process - including the World Bank, debt, and the struggle against poverty - and demonstrates the limitations of fundamentally linear thinking in an essentially non-linear world.
In this article, network science is discussed from a methodological perspective, and two central theses are defended. The first is that network science exploits the very properties that make a system complex. Rather than using idealization techniques to strip those properties away, as is standard practice in other areas of science, network science brings them to the fore, and uses them to furnish new forms of explanation. The second thesis is that network representations are particularly helpful in explaining the (...) properties of non-decomposable systems. Where part-whole decomposition is not possible, network science provides a much-needed alternative method of compressing information about the behavior of complexsystems, and does so without succumbing to problems associated with combinatorial explosion. The article concludes with a comparison between the uses of network representation analyzed in the main discussion, and an entirely distinct use of network representation that has recently been discussed in connection with mechanistic modeling. (shrink)
Regularities in natural language systems, despite their cognitive advantages in terms of storage and learnability, often coexist with exceptions, raising the question of whether and why irregularities survive. We offer a complex system perspective on this issue, focusing on the irregular past tense forms in English. Two separate processes affect the overall regularity: new verbs constantly entering the vocabulary in the regular form at low frequency, and transitions in both directions occurring in a narrow frequency range. The introduction (...) of new verbs leads to an increase in regular types, that, entering at low frequencies, have a small impact on the perceived irregularity in terms of tokens. The frequency of usage acts as a control parameter, the majority of verbs types being fully-regular at low frequencies, with no evidence of irregularity facing extinction. Very few verbs types in an intermediate frequency region exhibit both regular and irregular forms at the same time, suggesting that the coexistence is unstable. The observed pattern of usage showing an abrupt change in response to small variations of the control parameter only appears in agent-based models provided that the word state is non-binary. By introducing this key ingredient, high-frequency irregular past-tense can survive the tendency to regularize over time, as observed in natural languages. (shrink)
Some theorists who emphasize the complexity of biological and cognitive systems and who advocate the employment of the tools of dynamical systems theory in explaining them construe complexity and reduction as exclusive alternatives. This paper argues that reduction, an approach to explanation that decomposes complex activities and localizes the components within the complex system, is not only compatible with an emphasis on complexity, but provides the foundation for dynamical analysis. Explanation via decomposition and localization is nonetheless (...) extremely challenging, and an analysis of recent cognitive neuroscience research on memory is used to illustrate what is involved. Memory researchers split between advocating memory systems and advocating memory processes, and I argue that it is the latter approach that provides the critical sort of decomposition and localization for explaining memory. The challenges of linking distinguishable functions with brain processes is illustrated by two examples: competing hypotheses about the contribution of the hippocampus and competing attempts to link areas in frontal cortex with memory processing. (shrink)
Can we understand important social issues by studying individual personalities and decisions? Or are societies somehow more than the people in them? Sociologists have long believed that psychology can't explain what happens when people work together in complex modern societies. In contrast, most psychologists and economists believe that if we have an accurate theory of how individuals make choices and act on them, we can explain pretty much everything about social life. Social Emergence takes a new approach to these (...) longstanding questions. Sawyer argues that societies are complex dynamical systems, and that the best way to resolve these debates is by developing the concept of emergence, focusing on multiple levels of analysis - individuals, interactions, and groups - and with a dynamic focus on how social group phenomena emerge from communication processes among individual members. This book makes a unique contribution not only to complexsystems research but also to social theory. (shrink)
Complexity and Postmodernism explores the notion of complexity in the light of contemporary perspectives from philosophy and science. The book integrates insights from complexity and computational theory with the philosophical position of thinkers including Derrida and Lyotard. Paul Cilliers takes a critical stance towards the use of the analytical method as a tool to cope with complexity, and he rejects Searle's superficial contribution to the debate.
How might we usefully apply concepts and procedures derived from the study of other complex dynamical systems to analyzing systemic change in education? In this article we begin to define possible agendas for research toward developing systematic frameworks and shared terminology for such a project. We illustrate the plausibility of defining such frameworks and raise the question of the relation between such frameworks and the crucial task of aggregating data across ‘systemic experiments’, such as those conducted under the (...) Urban Systemic Initiative sponsored by the US National Science Foundation. Our discussion includes a review of key issues identified by groups of researchers regarding Defining the System, Structural Analysis, Relationships Among Subsystems and Levels, Drivers for Change, and Modeling Methods. (shrink)
We develop a category theoretical scheme for the comprehension of the information structure associated with a complex system, in terms of families of partial or local information carriers. The scheme is based on the existence of a categorical adjunction, that provides a theoretical platform for the descriptive analysis of the complex system as a process of functorial information communication.
Nowadays, the development of big data is getting faster and faster, and the related research on motion sensing recognition and complexsystems under the background of big data is gradually being valued. At present, there are relatively few related researches on vertical Baduanjin in the academic circles; research in this direction can make further breakthroughs in motion sensor recognition. In order to carry out related action recognition research on the lifting action of vertical Baduanjin, this paper uses sensor (...) technology to collect the motion video image of vertical Baduanjin based on the background of big data and uses action recognition technology and related algorithms to obtain the action. Recognize the video image to obtain the data, get the acceleration, angular velocity, and EMG data, and count the end time and duration according to the change of the action. According to the data table and graph change trend compiled at the end of the experiment, we can see the following: after the data is preprocessed, the acceleration signal change range is limited to [−1, 1], and the acceleration change has a clear directionality; and, after 15 lifts of the detected object, its angular velocity in X-axis direction is basically negative. However, when the ninth lift is performed, the angular velocity of the movement in X-axis direction is 36.09, the largest of all angular velocities. When performing the 15th lifting action, the angular velocity of this action in Z-axis direction is −26.05, which is the smallest of all angular velocities. The longest duration of the left muscle discharge during the lifting action of the subject is 15.24 for the tibial anterior muscle and 8.91 for the external oblique muscle with the shortest duration. The longest discharge duration of the right muscle is also the tibial anterior muscle with 12.15, and the shortest duration is the erector spinae with 8.79. (shrink)
Systems architecture and its associated parallel biology generate architectural forms that are both green and surreal by nature. The connection between systems architecture and Leo Lionni's fantastic book Parallel Botany are considered as architects are now starting to have the ability to create great works of biological parallelism using technologies that are highly sur real, they are on top of the real.
In the last 20 years, a stream of research emerged under the label of „complex problem solving“ (CPS). This research was intended to describe the way people deal with complex, dynamic, and intransparent situations. Complex computer-simulated scenarios were as stimulus material in psychological experiments. This line of research lead to subtle insights into the way how people deal with complexity and uncertainty. Besides these knowledge-rich, realistic, intransparent, complex, dynamic scenarios with many variables, a second line of (...) research used more simple, knowledge-lean scenarios with a low number of variables („minimal complexsystems“, MCS) that have been proposed recently in problem-solving research for the purpose of educational assessment. In both cases, the idea behind the use of microworlds is to increase validity of problem solving tasks by presenting interactive environments that can be explored and controlled by participants while pursuing certain action goals. The main argument presented here is: both types of systems - CPS and MCS – can only be dealt with successfully if causal dependencies between input and output variables are identified and used for system control. System knowledge is necessary for control and intervention. But CPS and MCS differ in their way of how causal dependencies are identified and how the mental model is constructed; therefore, they cannot be compared directly to each other with respect to the cognitive processes that are necessary for solving the tasks. Knowledge-poor MCS tasks address only a small fraction of the cognitive processes and structures needed for knowledge-rich CPS situations. (shrink)
Complexsystems are dynamic and may show high levels of variability in both space and time. It is often difficult to decide on what constitutes a given complex system, i.e., where system boundaries should be set, and what amounts to substantial change within the system. We discuss two central themes: the nature of system definitions and their ability to cope with change, and the importance of system definitions for the mental metamodels that we use to describe and (...) order ideas about system change. Systems can only be considered as single study units if they retain their identity. Previous system definitions have largely ignored the need for both spatial and temporal continuity as essential attributes of identity. After considering the philosophical issues surrounding identity and system definitions, we examine their application to modeling studies. We outline a set of five alternative metamodels that capture a range of the basic dynamics of complexsystems. Although Holling’s adaptive cycle is a compelling and widely applicable metamodel that fits many complexsystems, there are systems that do not necessarily follow the adaptive cycle. We propose that more careful consideration of system definitions and alternative metamodels for complexsystems will lead to greater conceptual clarity in the field and, ultimately, to more rigorous research. (shrink)
The standard assumptions that underlie many conceptual and quantitative frameworks do not hold for many complex physical, biological, and social systems. Complexsystems science clarifies when and why such assumptions fail and provides alternative frameworks for understanding the properties of complexsystems. This review introduces some of the basic principles of complexsystems science, including complexity profiles, the tradeoff between efficiency and adaptability, the necessity of matching the complexity of systems to (...) that of their environments, multiscale analysis, and evolutionary processes. Our focus is on the general properties of systems as opposed to the modeling of specific dynamics; rather than provide a comprehensive review, we pedagogically describe a conceptual and analytic approach for understanding and interacting with the complexsystems of our world. This paper assumes only a high school mathematical and scientific background so that it may be accessible to academics in all fields, decision-makers in industry, government, and philanthropy, and anyone who is interested in systems and society. (shrink)
This is the first work to apply complexsystems science to the psychological interplay of order and chaos. The author draws on thought from a wide range of disciplines-both conventional and unorthodox-to address such questions as the nature of consciousness, the relation between mind and reality, and the justification of belief systems. The material should provoke thought among systems scientists, theoretical psychologists, artificial intelligence researchers, and philosophers.
In _Complexity and Postmodernism_, Paul Cilliers explores the idea of complexity in the light of contemporary perspectives from philosophy and science. Cilliers offers us a unique approach to understanding complexity and computational theory by integrating postmodern theory into his discussion. _Complexity and Postmodernism_ is an exciting and an original book that should be read by anyone interested in gaining a fresh understanding of complexity, postmodernism and connectionism.
Complexsystems are used, studied and instantiated in science, with what con-sequences? To be clear and systematic in response it is necessary to distin-guish the consequences, for science, of science using and studying complexsystems, for philosophy of science, of science using and studying complexsystems, for philosophy of science, of philosophy of science modelling sci-ence as a complex system. Each of these is explored in turn, especially. While has been least studied, it (...) will be shown how modelling science as a complex process may change our conception of science and thereby query what a philosophy of science adequate to this complexity might look like. (shrink)
The idea that democracy is under threat, after being largely dormant for at least 40 years, is looming increasingly large in public discourse. Complexsystems theory offers a range of powerful new tools to analyse the stability of social institutions in general, and democracy in particular. What makes a democracy stable? And which processes potentially lead to instability of a democratic system? This paper offers a complexsystems perspective on this question, informed by areas of the (...) mathematical, natural, and social sciences. We explain the meaning of the term 'stability' in different disciplines and discuss how laws, rules, and regulations, but also norms, conventions, and expectations are decisive for the stability of a social institution such as democracy. (shrink)
Every essay in this book is original, often highly original, and they will be of interest to practising scientists as much as they will be to philosophers of science — not least because many of the essays are by leading scientists who are currently creating the emerging new complexsystems paradigm. This is no accident. The impact of complexsystems on science is a recent, ongoing and profound revolution. But with a few honourable exceptions, it has (...) largely been ignored by scientists and philosophers alike as an object of reflective study. (shrink)