Course Offered in the M.Sc. Program for Logic at the ILLC:
1st Semester 2003/2004, bloc c
Title: Philosophy of Mind/Cognitive Science in David Lodge's
Instructor: dr Benedikt Löwe;
1st Meeting. (Jan 9, 3-5, P.327) Introduction. First general impressions
about the novel.
2nd Meeting. (Jan 14, 11-1, P.327) Depiction of classical texts of
Philosophy of Mind (Mary, Bat), depiction of actual cognitive science research.
3rd Meeting. (Jan 22, 2-4, P.327) The Storyline and its connection to
the philosophical questions.
4th Meeting. (Jan 29, 2-4, P.327) The different literary techniques
used and their connection to the philosophical questions.
In David Lodge's new novel "Thinks...", he describes the efforts of
philosophy of mind to understand consciousness on several levels:
On the literary level, he investigates the dichotomy of inner experience
vs behaviour by changing literary style (not unknown from other Lodge
models): diary entires, recorded 'streams of consciousness', standard
prose with an emphasis on behaviour, student texts from a creative writing
class on topoi of philosophy of mind.
On the philosophical level, he discusses the main issues of philosophy
of mind in exchanges between the protagonists Helen and Ralph, and their
On the sociological level, he depicts contemporary cognitive science in
the Holt Belling Centre for Cognitive Science at the University of
Gloucester. In his acknowledgements, he thanks Aaron Sloman and states
that "though he shares some of the views of ... Ralph Messenger ... anyone
who knows him will testify that they have nothing else in common."
In this short project, we shall discuss all three levels and compare
Lodge's description of key issues of philosophy of mind with the
- Discuss the different literary styles in Lodge's novel and their
connections to positions in philosophy of mind. Compare this to
other uses of the technique of ironic style references in Lodge's
novels (e.g., Changing Places, Small World, Nice Work).
- Lodge discusses some classical texts of the philosophy of mind:
Nagel's "What is it like to be a bat?" and Jackson's "What Mary
didn't know". Compare Lodge's ways of dealing with these
gedankenexperiments with the original texts and their reception
in the philosophical literature.
- "What is it like to be a bat"
- "What Mary didn't know"
- Can we find Sloman's influence in Lodge's model? Are there important
positions and questions of the philosophy of mind that we can't
find in the novel?
- How is the academic world of cognitive science depicted in Lodge's
novel? Is it accurately depicted?
- Written Summary of the novel (1 page; deadline Jan 9)
- A brief essay "A first opinion about the novel" (deadline: Jan 14;
approximately 2 pages)
- A written essay on one of the five topics (10-20 pages; deadline Feb
Last changed: January 9th, 2004