Permanent Seminar 13.02.2023
Science and Culture – Breaking Borders
2:30 pm | National Library of Portugal
What is invention? What is its relationship to creation, innovation, and discovery? What connects it to imagination? by Nuno Miguel Proença


What is invention? What is its relationship to creation, innovation, and discovery? What connects it to imagination?


In both science and technology, as well as in the arts and letters, invention appears to be inseparable from the possibility of demonstrating new connections between images, knowledge, or procedures through an original combination of available means with a specific end in mind. Invention occurs when these previously unknown combinations are directed towards the identity of a defined and desired project. In this sense, while it is easy to admit that invention presupposes the discovery of a newly isolated data and interpreted within a set of available models or procedures, it is also straightforward to admit that a discovery (whether scientific, technical, or cultural - assuming that each of them expresses the same original dynamic) also presupposes the invention of forms that enable the perception of data that was not previously noticed or whose potential had not been partially envisioned or accepted. Thus, the possibility of demonstrating what was not yet known or of realizing it through an original arrangement of what was already accepted (whether images, models, or procedures) seems to require the anticipation of potentialities inherent in already accepted data or practices, which is characteristic of a creative or constructive imagination.


In order to make manifest the relationship between imagination, creation, and invention, in this session of the "Permanent Seminar Science and Culture: Breaking Borders," we will be interested in the work of Gilbert Simondon, especially in some chapters of his 1965-1966 lectures gathered in the volume titled Imagination et invention, PUF, 2014. The theory of the French philosopher shows us imagination and image as fundamental vital functions and essential paths of the psyche of living beings (human and more than human): both perception and consciousness are informed by the image, whose first forms are life, vitality, organized and constant movement. This local activity, of endogenous origin, can be understood as a condition of possibility in the subject of the object's own donation in perception and as that through which subjectivity surpasses and transforms perceptual data. Therefore, it shows us the organic unity between imagination and invention, to which we will pay special attention.


Nuno Miguel Proença is a researcher at the Modern and Contemporary Thought Group of CHAM, where he works on the relationship between affectivity and representations. He earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy at EHESS in Paris, with a thesis on Freud supervised by Fernando Gil and published under the title Qu'est-ce que l'objectivation en psychanalyse? (L'Harmattan, 2008). Together with Adelino Cardoso, he coordinated the edition of the dossier Evidência, afecto e inconsciente in issue 35 of the Cultura magazine (2016), as well as the book Dor, Sofrimento e Saúde Mental na Arquipatologia de Filipe Montalto (2018). He has recently published Vida, Afectividade e Sentido (Húmus, 2020) and the fiction book Segunda Visão da Noite (Húmus, 12catorze, 2022).




Adelino Cardoso (CHAM)

Nuno Miguel Proença (CHAM)