Phil/Psych 447

Seminar in Cognitive Science

Week 1: Introduction

Introduction to Course

Questions about creativity:

  1. What is creativity?
  2. How can we understand it?
  3. Can we increase it?
  4. What is the relation between creativity and innovation?
  5. Why is creativity important to cognitive science?
  6. Why is creativity important to philosophy?

Realms of creativity

  1. Scientific discovery
  2. Technological innovation
  3. Artistic imagination
  4. Social innovation
  5. Others (fit in first 4?): medicine, business, law, education, philosophy, religion, sports, cooking, ...

How is creativity similar or different in different realms?

Products of creativity

  1. Ideas: concepts, beliefs, goals.
  2. Things
  3. Actions
  4. Methods: procedural creativity.
  5. Others?

Do different products arise from different processes?

Processes of creativity

  1. Psychological: cognition & emotion
  2. Neural
  3. Social
  4. Others?

Some of Thagard's papers on creativity

Introduction to Philosophy

Thagard: Why cognitive science needs philosophy and vice versa.

Areas of Philosophy





Positions in the philosophy of mind

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

Artificial intelligence
Cognitive psychology
Chomsky’s linguistics
Computer analogy: thinking is representation + processing, a kind of computation.

This is a hypothesis, and might be false.

Challenges to cognitive science:

Later Developments:

Current status?

Aim: use theoretical neuroscience to explain (provide mechanisms for) all aspects of cognition, including rules, concepts, imagery, parallel constraint satisfaction, analogy, and emotion.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some important examples of creativity?
  2. Do you have to be a genius to be creative?
  3. Can computers be creative?
  4. Can people learn (or be taught) to be more creative?
  5. Why is creativity desirable?
  6. Why is understanding creativity desirable?
  7. Can creativy be explained as a computational process?
  8. Can creativity be explained as a psychological process?
  9. Can creativity be explained as a neural process?
  10. What is the relation between creativity and emotion?
  11. What technologies can be used to increase creativity?

Phil/Psych 447

Paul Thagard

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

This page updated Sept. 12, 2011