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?
- What is the relation between creativity and innovation?
- Why is creativity important to cognitive science?
- Why is creativity important to philosophy?
Realms of creativity
- Scientific discovery
- Technological innovation
- Artistic imagination
- Social innovation
- 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
- Ideas: concepts, beliefs, goals.
- Methods: procedural creativity.
Do different products arise from different processes?
Processes of creativity
- Psychological: cognition & emotion
Some of Thagard's papers on creativity
- Saunders, D., & Thagard, P. (2005). Creativity
in computer science. In J. C. Kaufman & J. Baer (Eds.), Creativity across
domains: Faces of the muse. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 153-167.
- Thagard, P. (2006). How to collaborate:
Procedural knowledge in the cooperative development of science. Southern
Journal of Philosophy, 44: 177-196. .PDF
- Thagard, P. (1998). Ulcers and bacteria I: Discovery
and acceptance. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science. Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biology and Biomedical Sciences,
- Thagard, P. (2002). Curing
cancer? Patrick Lee's path to the reovirus treatment. International Studies
in Philosophy of Science, 16, 179-193. HTML
- Thagard, P. (2003). Pathways
to biomedical discovery. Philosophy of Science, 70: 235-254. PDF
- Thagard, P., and Croft, D. (1999). Scientific
discovery and technological innovation: Ulcers, dinosaur extinction, and the
programming language JAVA. In L. Magnani, N. Nersessian, and P. Thagard
(eds.), Model-based Reasoning in Scientific Discovery, Plenum. 125-137.
- Thagard, P. and Shelley, C. P. (1997). Abductive reasoning: Logic, visual thinking, and coherence.
In M.-L. Dalla Chiara et al. (Eds.), Logic and scientific methods.
Dordrecht: Kluwer, 413-427. HTML
- Thagard, P., & Stewart, T. C. (2011). The Aha! experience: Creativity through emergent binding in neural networks. Cognitive Science, 35, 1-33. PDF
- Thagard, P. (forthcoming). Creative combination of representations: Scientific discovery and technological invention. In R. Proctor & E. J. Capaldi (Eds.), Psychology of science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Thagard, P. (forthcoming). Patterns of medical discovery. In F. Gifford (Ed.), Handbook of philosophy of medicine. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Introduction to Philosophy
Thagard: Why cognitive science needs philosophy and vice versa.
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?
- What technologies can be used to increase creativity?
This page updated Sept. 12, 2011