Philosophy 447 / Psychology 447

Seminar in Cognitive Science: Creativity and Innovation

Fall, 2011

Professor: Paul Thagard

Office hours (HH368): TTh 1-2, and by appointment.

Email: Phone: extension 33594.

Web page:

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

Textbook: J. C. Kaufman & R. J. Sternberg, The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity, 2010.

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 innovation, especially on the nature and plausibility of the explanations of them that are being developed in fields such as psychology, artificial intelligence and cognitive neuroscience.


Reading (Note changes made Oct. 21):

 Week  Dates  Reading


 1 Sept.13-15 K&S 1

Wikipedia, Ward

 2 Sept. 20-22 K&S 2, 3 Thagard
 3 Sept. 27-29 K&S 5, 6 Gentner
 4 Oct. 4-6 K&S 7, 8, 4 (optional)


 5 Oct. 11-13 K&S 9, 11

Thagard & Stewart, Subramian

 6 Oct.18-20 K&S 12, 13 Adam & Eve
 7 Oct. 25-27 K&S 12, 13; 14 Thagard 1980
 8 Nov. 1-3 K&S 15, 17 Watson
 9 Nov. 8-10 K&S 18, 19 Catmull
 10 Nov. 15-17 K&S 20, 21


11 Nov. 22-24 Student reports  
12 Nov. 29-Dec. 1 Student reports  

Four books (Boden, Koestler, Sawyer, Simonton) are on 1-day reserve in the Porter Library.

Web page for 2009 course on creativity.

Some prominent creativity researchers: Margaret Boden, Douglas Hofstadter, Keith Sawyer, Dean Simonton, Robert Sternberg.

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. 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. Discussion questions will be available here the afternoon before the class.

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.  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

Please do not use laptops and other electronic devices in class, for reasons given on my blog.

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: Theories of Creativity

Week 3: Explanations of Creativity

Week 4: Art and Organizations

Week 5: Genius and Brains

Week 6. Children and Education

Week 7: Culture

Week 8: Evolution and Domain Specificity

Week 9: Motivation and Group Creativity

Week 10: Mental Illness and Intelligence

Paul Thagard

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

This page updated Nov. 16, 2011