António Sérgio: Critical Rationalism and Technology

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The Portuguese public intellectual and philosopher António Sérgio (1883–1969) proposed in his essays a critical rationalism with affinities with Dewey’s experientialism, insisting on a dialogical and personalistic neo-Kantian ethics. Inspired by Proudhon’s philosophy of work, and by the discussion in France, around 1910, of the practical/technical origin of human intelligence and the role of technique in scientific development (Bergson, Durkheim, Louis Weber, etc.) he highlighted the attitude of experimentalism of some members the Portuguese elite of the sixteenth century related to the Portuguese navigations, as well as Galileo’s interest in techniques, insisting on the practical factors favouring the Scientific Revolution. He made pertinent reflections on the relations between democracy and technical expertise, between capitalism, industry, war and the human condition (with a Marxist flavour). After the Great Depression, and echoing Veblen, he announced the possibility of an Age of Abundance, and showed how Capitalism sabotaged that real possibility. He insisted on the advantages of Cooperativism and Planning, and committed himself to the development of Cooperatives, paying a high price for his opposition to Salazar’s regime. In his last texts, during the 1950s, he favoured an holistic/ecological view of human affairs. He always kept the Kantian distinction between means and ends as essential to the comprehension and conduct of policies, avoiding any fatalist view of the role of Technique.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophy of Engineering and Technology
EditorsHelena Mateus Jerónimo
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-14632-9
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePhilosophy of Engineering and Technology
ISSN (Print)1879-7202
ISSN (Electronic)1879-7210


  • Abundantism
  • António Sérgio
  • Experientialism
  • Homo faber
  • Neo-Kantian ethics


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