Seminar in Cognitive Science
Week 1: Introduction
Introduction to Course
Questions about creativity:
- What is creativity?
- How can we understand it?
- Can we increase it?
Approach: How can cognitive science help us to answer these questions?
Thagard: Why cognitive science needs philosophy and vice versa.
Introduction to Philosophy
Areas of Philosophy
- Epistemology: Theory of knowledge
- Metaphysics: Theory of what exists
- Ethics: Theory of right and wrong
- Philosophy seeks a priori truths, known by reason alone.
- Current form: thought experiments + conceptual analysis
- Necessary truths: true in all possible worlds
- Philosophers: Plato, Aquinas, Kant, Frege, Husserl, Kripke
- Philosophy is continuous with science and does not recognize supernatural
entities such as souls.
- But philosophy differs from science by dealing with more general epistemological
and metaphysical issues and by approaching normative issues: how things should
- Empiricism: version of naturalism unduly restricted to sense experience.
- There are no truths that are a priori or necessary.
- Philosophers: Locke, Hume, Mill, Dewey, Quine, Dennett, Churchlands.
- The world is a text.
- Philosophy is discourse.
- Truth is what you can get your colleagues to agree on.
- Foucault, Derrida, Rorty.
What is a mental state?
1. Dualism: mental state = non-material state of spiritual mind. E.g. Descartes,
Eccles, religious views.
2. Idealism: everything is mental. Pan-psychism: everything is conscious, at
least to a degree.
3. Identity theory: mental state = brain state. E.g. JJC Smart 1950s
4. Functionalism: mental state = functional state of an information processing
system. There is an underlying physical state (functionalism is a kind of materialism)
but the physical state places no constraints on mental states.
5. Eliminative materialism: do not try to equate mental states with anything,
since our theory of mental states is just part of folk psychology which is largely
false. Instead, replace talk of mental states with theories drawn from human
neuroscience. Reject functionalism because it is crucial that thinking is based
in human brains. Paul and Pat Churchland.
6. Mysterian materialism: mental states are physical states, but are far too
weird and complicated to be explained scientifically.
Introduction to Cognitive Science
History of philosophy: Plato, Aristotle, empiricists, rationalists.
Origins of experimental psychology in 1870s: Wundt, James, behaviorists
Origin of modern cognitive science: mid-1950s
Computer analogy: thinking is representation + processing, a kind of computation.
This is a hypothesis, and might be false.
Challenges to cognitive science:
- Mind is non-natural
- Mind is embodied, situated, extended (world, social)
- Science is subjective
- 1960s: rule-based problem solving
- 1970s: concepts and schemas, imagery
- 1980s: connectionism, analogy
- 1990s: brain imaging
- 2000s: theoretical neuroscience
Aim: use theoretical neuroscience to explain (provide mechanisms for) all
aspects of cognition, including rules, concepts, imagery, parallel constraint
satisfaction, analogy, and emotion.
- What are some important examples of creativity?
- Do you have to be a genius to be creative?
- Can computers be creative?
- Can people learn (or be taught) to be more creative?
- Why is creativity desirable?
- Why is understanding creativity desirable?
- Can creativy be explained as a computational process?
- Can creativity be explained as a psychological process?
- Can creativity be explained as a neural process?
- What is the relation between creativity and emotion?
This page updated Sept. 14, 2009