From ancient philosophy to Tristram Shandy and Buster Keaton movies, this book tells the engaging history of accident as an idea. An accidental glance at a newspaper notice causes Rousseau to collapse under the force of a vision. A car accidentally hits Giacometti, and he experiences an epiphany. Darwin introduces accident to the basic process of life, and Freud looks to accident as the expression of unconscious desire. Accident, Ross Hamilton claims, is the force that makes us modern. Tracing the story of accident from Aristotle to Buster Keaton and beyond, Hamilton's daring book revives the tradition of the grand history of ideas. 'Accident' tells an original history of Western thought from the perspective of Aristotle's remarkably durable categories of accident and substance.