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Friedrich Dessauer (1881-1963) was one of the prominent representatives of the so-called “tradition of engineering philosophy of technology”. He may be righteously called an “engineer-philosopher”. Dessauer developed an original philosophical reflection on the nature of technical invention. He did it first in Philosophie der Technik (1927) and later in Streit um die Technik (1956). Particularly in the long second chapter of this later he presented a sort of modal theory of technology. To him the human being is endowed with technical capacity. However, that capacity is not innate, but dispositional and resulting from the conjunction of 3 "formative forces" ("Formkräfte"), namely: curiosity, creativity and operability. According to him, the human being is "investigator", inquires the world and the causal structure and laws that govern it, "inventor", imagines new objects submitted to specific ends and "faber", transforms those imagined objects into real ones. The created objects can be of two basic types: artefacts (spatial creations: instruments, tools, products, machines, etc.) and practices (temporal creations: procedures, processes, methods, etc.). They are technical objects, i.e., historical inventions resulting from the convergence of the referred formative forces and, therefore, invested with three fundamental properties that give them such ontological status: they work, that is, they have effects in the real world obeying natural laws, they comply with specific human ends and can be operated on, that is, they are adapted to human anatomy. To Dessauer technical invention is a form of discovery in the field of the possible and not in the field of the real. According to him, "there exists this enormous realm of definite forms, which, so to speak, expect (pre-established) its discoverer; they exist from the point of view of possibility.” It will be the main purpose of my presentation to critically reconstruct Dessauer`s view on the nature of technical invention.

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João Ribeiro Mendes (Portugal) 10920
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