ACCIDENT, Accidens, in Philosophy, something additional, or superadded, to Substance; or not essentially belonging thereto, but capable, indifferently, either of being or not being in it, without the Destruction thereof. See SUBSTANCE.

Some will have the Word compounded of ad aliud cadens, q. d. falling or belonging to another; others suppose it formed ab accidendo, happening accidentally.

The Schoolmen distinguish three Kinds of Accidents;Verbal, Predicable, and Predicamental.

Verbal Accident, Accidens Verbale, stands opposed to Essence; and in this Sense, the Adjuncts to a thing, though Substances themselves, are denominated Accidents thereof. See ADJUNCT.

Thus, the Clothes a Man has on, though real Substances, yet, as they are not essential, but adventitious or accessory to his Existence, are Accidents. See ESSENCE.

Predicable Accident, Accident Tràedicabile, is used in opposition to Proper. Such is any common Quality; as, Whiteness, Heat, Learning, or the like. See QUALITY.

Thus, a Man may be sick or well; and a Wall white or black; yet the one be still a Man, and the other a Wall.

These are called in the Schools Predicable Accidents;because usually laid down and explained in the Doctrine of Predicables. See PREDICABLE.

Predicable Accidents may either be taken in the Abstract, as Whiteness, Learning; or in the Concrete, White, Learned. See ABSTRACT, and CONCRETE.

If taken in the Abstract, as is done by Porphyry; the Accident is defined as above, that which may either be present or absent, without the Destruction of its Subject.

If it be taken in the Concrete: Accident is usually defined by the Schoolmen, to be something capable of being predicated contingently, of many, in respect of Quality.

As Learning which may probably be predicated of You, He, etc.

Predicamental Accident, Accidens Predicamentale, which alone properly answers to the Idea of an Accident;is a Mode, or Modification of some created Substance, inhering or depending thereon, so as not to be capable of subsisting without the same. See MODE.

In this sense, Accident is opposed to Substance. Whence, as Substance is defined as a thing that subsists of itself, and the substratum of Accidents, so an Accident is said to be that cuius esse est inesse. Therefore, Aristotle, who usually calls Substances simply ousia, Entities, Beings, commonly calls Accidents, ta sumbebekota, Entities of Entity, as requiring some Substance wherein to reside, as their subject of inhesion.

An Accident then has an immediate and essential dependence on its Substance; both as to its production, its continuation, and its effects. It arises or is deduced from its subject, is preserved or subsisted by it, and can only be affected by what alters or affects the subject.

The Schoolmen, however, will not have Accidents to be mere modes of matter but entities really distinct from it and, in some cases, separable from all matter. But the notion of real Accidents and Qualities is now exploded. See QUALITY.

Aristotle and the Peripatetics make nine kinds or classes of Predicamental Accidents; others contract them into a less number. See PREDICAMENT and CATEGORY.

Absolute Accident is a term used in Roman Theology for an Accident that subsists or may possibly subsist, at least miraculously and by some supernatural power, without a subject.

Such, they contend, are the Accidents of the Bread and Wine in the Eucharist, e.g. the color, flavor, figure, etc. thereof, which remain after the substances they belonged to are changed into other substances of flesh, etc. See EUCHARIST, SPECIES, TRANSUBSTANTIATION, etc.

This absurdity has been very stoutly maintained by many of their casuists and even decreed by some of their councils. The Eucharist, they say, being a sacrament, i.e., a visible sign of an invisible grace; it is necessary there be something sensible therein. Now, this cannot be the substance, that being destroyed or transubstantiated; and therefore, there must be Accidents. Add that in every conversion, there must be something of the former nature remaining after the change; otherwise, it would be no more than a simple substitution of one thing for another. As then nothing of the substance remains, it must be Accidents.

Hence, the Council of Constance condemns the following proportion, which is the second of Wiclif's, as heretical: The Accidents of Bread do not remain without a subject in the Sacrament. Ses. VIII.

Some of the Fathers seem to give countenance to the same opinion. S. Basil, in his VIth Homily on the Creation, observes that Light, or rather Brightness, the Splendor of Light, to phos or thraskia tou phōtos, is a thing distinct from its subject, as whiteness is from a white body, and that it existed in the beginning without this subject, having been created four days before.

The Cartesians, to a man, combat the notion of Absolute Accidents, it being their doctrine that the essence of matter consists of extension, and that Accidents are only modifications thereof, in no wise distinct from it. An Accident without a subject must be a contradiction. And hence, Cartesianism is branded as contrary to the faith. See CARTESIANISM.

Various expedients have been invented by the Cartesians, to account for Transubstantiation, &c. without the hypothesis of Absolute Accidents. Some hold that the usual impressions are made on the senses by the immediate agency of God, and without anything remaining of the former nature. Others ascribe the whole to heterogeneous matters contained in the pores of the bread, etc., which remaining unaltered by the Transubstantiation, produce the same sensations as the bread produced.

Accident is also popularly used for a contingent existence or something produced casually and without any foreknowledge or deliberation thereof in the agent that produced it. See CHANCE, FORTUNE, etc.

Per ACCIDENS is frequently used among philosophers to denote what does not follow from the nature of a thing but from some accidental quality thereof. In this sense, it stands opposed to per se, which denotes the nature and essence of a thing. See PER SE.

Thus, fire is said to burn per se, or considered as fire and not per accidens: but a piece of iron, though red hot, only burns per accidens, by a quality accidental to it and not considered as iron.

Accident, in heraldry, is an additional note or mark in a coat of arms, not necessarily belonging thereto, but capable either of being retained or omitted without altering the essence of the armor. Such are abatements, differences, and tincture. See ABATEMENT, TINCTURE, and DIFFERENCE.