CultureLab • International Conference

Invention and Imagination

14–16 December 2023
School of Social Sciences and Humanities, NOVA University Lisbon
Colégio Almada Negreiros, Campus de Campolide

In the sciences as in techniques, in the arts as in literature, invention seems to be inseparable from the possibility of making evident new connections, images, knowledge or procedures through an original combination of available means for a determined end. There is invention when previously unknown combinations are led to the identity of a defined and desired project, which usually allows the resolution of problems. In this sense, if we can easily admit that invention supposes the discovery of newly isolated data interpreted from the point of view of available models or procedures, it is equally simple to admit that a new discovery (whether scientific, technical or cultural – accepting that these fields are interconnected and express the same original dynamism) supposes the invention of forms that allow the perception of a datum that had not been noticed beforehand or whose potentiality had not been welcomed or imagined.

But how are images, imagination and invention related? What relation do they have to innovation, novelty, creation and creativity? What is the role of coincidences, inspiration or dreams in inventive processes? How essential are they to what is innovative in the very dynamism of the living subjects that we are? How are imagination and invention inscribed in the becoming of the cultural and political environment in which we live? To what extent can the invention of humanity endanger human life? Does the process of creation and invention have an immanent imaginary dynamic, in which subjects participate, or can subjectivities intentionally give rise to new images?

Focusing on philosophy and the history of ideas, the aim of this conference is to shed light on these and other questions related to the nature of imagination and invention through an interdisciplinary reflection.


Vincent Bontems (CEA, France)
António Bracinha Vieira (Centre for Philosophy of Science of the University of Lisbon)
Richard Kearney (Boston College, USA)
Maria Filomena Molder (IFILNOVA, NOVA University Lisbon)
Olga Pombo (Centre for Philosophy of Science of the University of Lisbon)
Yulia Ustinova (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel)
Elliot Wolfson (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA)

Full programme here.




CFUL / University of Lisbon