AskDefine | Define accidentalism

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Accidental character or effect.

Extensive Definition

Accidentalism is a term with several meanings.
  • In philosophy, it is used for any system of thought which denies the causal nexus and maintains that events succeed one another haphazardly or by chance (not in the mathematical but in the popular sense). In metaphysics, accidentalism denies the doctrine that everything occurs or results from a definite cause. In this connection it is synonymous with Tychism (ruxi, chance), a term used by Charles Sanders Peirce for the theories which make chance an objective factor in the process of the Universe.
  • In religion it refers to the theory that Jesus did not intend to be crucified, and was surprised at that outcome. Encyclopedia Britannica
  • In ethics the term is used, like indeterminism, to denote the theory that mental change cannot always be ascribed to previously ascertained psychological states, and that volition is not causally related to the motives involved. An example of this theory is the doctrine of the liberum arbitrium indifferentiae ("liberty of indifference"), according to which the choice of two or more alternative possibilities is affected neither by contemporaneous data of an ethical or prudential kind nor by crystallized habit (character).Opponents of accidentalism maintain that what seems to be the result of chance is in reality due to a cause or causes which, owing to the lack of imagination, knowledge or scientific instruments, we are unable to detect.
  • In painting, the term accidentalism is used for the effect produced by accidental lights (John Ruskin, Modern Painters, I. n. 4, iii. 4, 287).
  • In medicine, it stands for the hypothesis that disease is only an accidental modification of the healthy condition, and can, therefore, be avoided by modifying external conditions.
  • In music, the term Accidentalism refers to a style which finds its roots in IDM, Glitch and Breakcore. Its main characteristic is the use of randomization and chaos theory to control aspects of certain sounds and effects parameters and even the melodic and harmonic structure of the work, resulting in a produced yet unique sound in each performance. As a musical term, Accidentalism was coined by Electronic musician/Multi-media artist, Computo.
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