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 Novel "Thinks..."
Instructor: dr Benedikt Löwe; e-mail:
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 personal thoughts.

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 philosophical literature.

Student Tasks:
  1. 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).
  2. 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.
    1. "What is it like to be a bat"
    2. "What Mary didn't know"
  3. 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?
  4. How is the academic world of cognitive science depicted in Lodge's novel? Is it accurately depicted?
Credit Requirements:
Last changed: January 9th, 2004