The Accident and the Brokenness of History: Updated November 2015

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An article to be presented at the seminar “Breakdown and other Technological Phenomena”– directed by Professor Don Ihde to be held during the fall term of 2010 at the Techno-science Research Group; Department of Philosophy, Stony Brook University
Aristotle understood the word “accident” as an attribute of a class or a thing that is not essential. The word comes from Latin accidentum meaning “something that happens by chance”. In everyday modern life on the other hand, we normally understand and experience accidents as an unexpected and undesirable event that can cause harm in some form, which consequently makes the word negatively charged. Further, we give the name “catastrophe” to huge accidents, that is, accidents that affect a large number of people and have huge consequences. Catastrophes can in turn be differentiated in to two main groups: man-made catastrophes and natural catastrophes. Accidents belong to the first group because they are always the consequence of human action performed by one or more individuals. From our point of view and according to our theory of action, an accident is always an intentional act and therefore an unconscious act. For us any act is unconscious and the difference between normal acts and accidents is that an accident for us is a “broken act”, that is an act that is being directed to achieve a result or a purpose but failed to achieve it. The existence of a broken act indicates what we will call parapraxis. This can be compared with the corresponding
Freudian concept of parapraxis which is the consequence of a conflict between unconscious and conscious intention. For Freud parapraxis is an error in speech, or in action. It can be understood as a kind of “stumble with an invisible obstacle” outside the range of consciousness. That is because to be conscious for Freud is the same as to see while to be unconscious means to “stumble blindly” forward. However, Freud left the question unsolved about the relationship between unconsciousness and action. For us intentionality is identical with human action and has no other possible place than in the relationship between the body and the physical world.


  • Fernando Flores
Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Idé- och lärdomshistoria
Antal sidor17
StatusUnpublished - 2010
Peer review utfördNej


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