The Complex Systems Approach: Rhetoric or Revolution


should be sent to Chris Eliasmith, Department of Philosophy, Department of Systems Design Engineering, Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, University of Waterloo, 200 University Ave., Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3G1. E-mail:


The complex systems 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.