Philosophy 447 / Psychology 447 / Phil 673

Seminar in Cognitive Science: Creativity and Emotion

Fall, 2009

Professor: Paul Thagard

Office hours (HH368): M1:00-2:00; F 2:00-3:00, and by appointment.

Email: Phone: extension 33594.

Web page:

Time: TTh, 10:00-11:20. HH 373

Textbook: M. Boden, The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms, second edition

Student reports:

Assignments: Marks will be based on:

Description: This course is an interdisciplinary seminar, combining ideas from philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and computer science. It's focus this year will be on the study of creativity and emotion, especially on the nature and plausibility of the explanations of them that are being developed in fields such as artificial intelligence and cognitive neuroscience.


 Week  Dates  Reading


 1 Sept. 15-17 Boden: In a Nutshell Ward
 2 Sept. 22-24 Boden 1-2 Wikipedia
 3 Sept. 29-Oct. 1 Boden 3-4 Gentner
 4 Oct. 6-8 Boden 5-6


 5 Oct. 13-15 Boden 7-8 Adam & Eve
 6 Oct. 20-22 Boden 9-10 Serendipity
 7 Oct. 27-29 Boden 11-12 Bringsjord
 8 Nov. 3-5 Thagard: Aha! Subramian
 9 Nov. 10-12 Watson: Social Collaboration
 10 Nov. 17-19

17: Molecules

19: Improving


11 Nov. 24-26 Student reports  
12 Dec. 1-3 Student reports  

Miscellaneous further readings.

Instructions for writing commentaries:

For each class in weeks 2-10, hand in at the BEGINNING of the class a short commentary, maximum 100 words, on the claim, hypothesis, or issue that you found most interesting in the reading. Optional readings will be available later. Your commentary should identify the claim that interests you and the strongest evidence for and against it. The purpose of these commentaries is to ensure that everyone comes to class prepared for discussion.

Cognitive Science resources.

From the Faculty of Arts:

All students registered in the courses of the Faculty of Arts are expected to know what constitutes an academic offense, to avoid committing academic offenses, and to take responsibility for their academic actions.  When the commission of an offense is established, disciplinary penalties will be imposed in accord with Policy #71 (Student Academic Discipline).  For information on categories of offenses and types of penalties, students are directed to consult the summary of Policy #71 (Student Academic Discipline) which is supplied in the Undergraduate Calendar (p.1:11).  If you need help in learning how to avoid offenses such as plagiarism, cheating, and double submission, or if you need clarification of aspects of the discipline policy, ask your course instructor for guidance.  Other resources regarding the discipline policy are your academic advisor and the Undergraduate Associate Dean.

Faculty of Arts information on plagiarism and other offences.

This class is a core course for the Cognitive Science Option.

Lecture notes and discussion questions

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: The Mystery of Creativity

Week 3: Conceptual Combinations

Week 4: Computational Connections

Week 5: Art and Science

Week 6: Chance and Genius

Week 7: Humans and Computers

Week 8: Creative Brains

Week 9: Social Creativity

Week 10: Molecules and Madness; Improving Creativity

Paul Thagard

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

This page updated Nov. 16, 2009