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Recent article analyzes basic concepts of René Girard’s anthropology. mimetic theory, the theory which contains three important ideas: the concept of. Beginning with his rst book Deceit, desire and the Novel René Girard de-. The Girard reader / René Girard; edited by James G. Williams. This Reader in René Girard's body of work is intended to present excerpts and articles which. Introduction T he year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the English translation of René Girard's first book: Mensonge roman- tique et verité.


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Violence, Desire, and the Sacred Volume 2 René Girard and Sacrifice in Life, Love, and Literature Edited by Joel Hodge, Scott Cowdell, and Chris Fleming. René Girard. Stanford University. Among younger women, eating disorders are reaching epidemic proportions. The most widespread and spectacular at this. RENÉ GIRARD: THE SCAPEGOAT MECHANISM. 1. First of all, something about RG himself. He was born in Avignon on Christmas day. Studied medieval.

But this process would already begin prior the representation, you see, because it is directly produced by the experience of the misunderstood scapegoat. This substitution is the beginning of representation and language , but also the beginning of sacrifice and ritual.

The genesis of language and ritual is very slow and we must imagine that there are also kinds of rituals among the animals: "It is the originary scapegoating which prolongs itself in a process which can be infinitely long in moving from, how should I say, from instinctive ritualization, instinctive prohibition, instinctive separation of the antagonists, which you already find to a certain extent in animals, towards representation.

According to the French sociologist Camille Tarot, it is hard to understand how the process of representation symbolicity, language To keep it alive, therefore, there must be some form of cultural protection, because in the world of mammals, such infants would not survive, they would be destroyed.

Therefore there is a reason to believe that in the later stages of human evolution, culture and nature are in constant interaction.

The first stages of this interaction must occur prior to language, but they must include forms of sacrifice and prohibition that create a space of non-violence around the mother and the children which make it possible to reach still higher stages of human development.

You can postulate as many such stages as are needed.

Thus, you can have a transition between ethology and anthropology which removes, I think, all philosophical postulates. The discontinuities would never be of such a nature as to demand some kind of sudden intellectual illumination. The Gospels ostensibly present themselves as a typical mythical account, with a victim-god lynched by a unanimous crowd, an event that is then commemorated by Christians through ritual sacrifice — a material re-presentation in this case — in the Eucharist.

The parallel is perfect except for one detail: the truth of the innocence of the victim is proclaimed by the text and the writer. The mythical account is usually built on the lie of the guilt of the victim in as much as it is an account of the event seen from the viewpoint of the anonymous lynchers. This ignorance is indispensable to the efficacy of the sacrificial violence.

Already the Old Testament shows this turning inside-out of the mythic accounts with regard to the innocence of the victims Abel , Joseph , Job … , and the Hebrews were conscious of the uniqueness of their religious tradition. With the Gospels, it is with full clarity that are unveiled these "things hidden since the foundation of the world" Matthew , the foundation of social order on murder, described in all its repulsive ugliness in the account of the Passion.

Girard reinterprets certain biblical expressions in light of his theories; for instance, he sees "scandal" skandalon , literally, a "snare", or an "impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall" [16] as signifying mimetic rivalry, for example Peter's denial of Jesus. Has it put an end to the sacrificial order based on violence in the society that has claimed the gospel text as its own religious text?

No, he replies, since in order for a truth to have an impact it must find a receptive listener, and people do not change that quickly. The gospel text has instead acted as a ferment that brings about the decomposition of the sacrificial order. While medieval Europe showed the face of a sacrificial society that still knew very well how to despise and ignore its victims, nonetheless the efficacy of sacrificial violence has never stopped decreasing, in the measure that ignorance receded.

Here Girard sees the principle of the uniqueness and of the transformations of the Western society whose destiny today is one with that of human society as a whole.

Not at all; rather, it deprives modern societies of most of the capacity of sacrificial violence to establish temporary order. The "innocence" of the time of the ignorance is no more. On the other hand, Christianity, following the example of Judaism , has desacralized the world, making possible a utilitarian relationship with nature.

Increasingly threatened by the resurgence of mimetic crises on a grand scale, the contemporary world is on one hand more quickly caught up by its guilt, and on the other hand has developed such a great technical power of destruction that it is condemned to both more and more responsibility and less and less innocence.

So, for example, while empathy for victims manifests progress in the moral conscience of society, it nonetheless also takes the form of a competition among victims that threatens an escalation of violence. Hysteria and obsession are explained through mimetic rivalry and the priority of desire. Girard's work is also attracting increasing interest from empirical researchers investigating human imitation among them Andrew Meltzoff and Vittorio Gallese.

Recently, empirical studies into the mechanism of desire have suggested some intriguing correlations with Girard's theory on the subject. For instance, clinical psychologist Scott R. Garrels wrote: What makes Girard's insights so remarkable is that he not only discovered and developed the primordial role of psychological mimesis The parallels between Girard's insights and the only recent conclusions made by empirical researchers concerning imitation in both development and the evolution of species are extraordinary Like Lucien Goldmann, they see a connection between Girard's theory of mimetic desire and the Marxian theory of commodity fetishism.

In their theory, the market takes the place of the sacred in modern life as the chief institutional mechanism stabilizing the otherwise explosive conflicts of desiring subjects.

According to Anspach, the vicious circle of violence and vengeance generated by mimetic rivalry gives rise to the gift economy , as a means to overcome it and achieve a peaceful reciprocity: "Instead of waiting for your neighbour to come steal your yams, you offer them to him today, and it is up to him to do the same for you tomorrow. Once you have made a gift, he is obliged to make a return gift.

El-chivo-expiatorio-Rene-Girard.pdf (PDFy mirror)

Now you have set in motion a positive circularity. Thus reciprocal violence is eliminated by the sacrifice, obligations of vengeance by the gift, and finally the possibly dangerous gift by "economic rationality. Literature[ edit ] Girard's influence extends beyond philosophy and social science, and includes the literary realm.

A prominent example of a fiction writer influenced by Girard is J. Coetzee , winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Critics have noted that mimetic desire and scapegoating are recurring themes in Coetzee's novels Elizabeth Costello and Disgrace.

In the latter work, the book's protagonist also gives a speech about the history of scapegoating with noticeable similarities to Girard's view of the same subject. Coetzee has also frequently cited Girard in his non-fiction essays, on subjects ranging from advertising to the Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Building on Tarde, crowd psychology, Nietzsche, and more generally on a modernist tradition of the "mimetic unconscious" that had hypnosis as its via regia, Nidesh Lawtoo argued that for the modernists not only desire but all affects turn out to be contagious and mimetic.

Hobbes: "if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies. Like Hobbes, he refers to the increase of mimetic desire coming along with equality. What is more, both Girard and Lacan read these myths through the lens of structural anthropology so it is not surprising that their intellectual systems came to resemble one another so strongly.

Meloni writes that Girard and Lacan were "moved by similar preoccupations and are fascinated by and attracted to the same kind of issues: the constituent character of the other in the structure of desire, the role of jealousy and rivalry in the construction of the social bond, the proliferation of triangles within apparently dual relations, doubles and mirrors, imitation and the Imaginary, and the crisis of modern society within which the 'rite of Oedipus' is situated.

Girard notes, for example, that the disciples actively turn against Jesus. First, it is very hard to explain the existence of taboo desires, such as homosexuality in repressive societies, on that basis.

However, such a response leaves unexplained why homosexuals would imitate the desires of heterosexual members of the opposite sex. However, original sin, according to Girard's interpretation, explains only our propensity to imitate, not the specific content of our imitated desires.

Deceit, Desire, and the Novel

Beneficial imitation[ edit ] In the early part of Girard's career, there seemed no place for beneficial imitation. Jean-Michel Oughourlian objected that "imitation can be totally peaceful and beneficial; I don't believe that I am the other, I don't want to take his place. Adams proposed a reassessment of Girard's theory that includes an account of loving mimesis or, as she preferred to call it, creative mimesis.

If beneficial imitation is possible, then it is no longer necessary for cultures to be born by means of scapegoating; they could just as well be born through healthy emulation.

As a performative genre, Dionysian ritual is associated with the dismem- berment of a sacrificial victim to appease the deity, in ritual repetition of what was believed to have happened to the god himself.

René Girard and the Nonviolent God

Like Nietzsche, Max Weber, in Ancient Judaism, emphasizes repeatedly that the authors of the Bible take the side of the victim. Consistent with this reading, the New Testament is continually at pains to indicate that evil has power only in so far as it is embodied in a particular person or group.

Thus, the personification of Satan as rivalrous mimesis—as that which engenders accusation and violence—is necessi- tated by the way in which this power attaches itself to a victim at the epicenter of the scapegoat mechanism: Girard sees hints that Clausewitz himself began to think otherwise when, as a witness to Napoleonic Wars, he saw clearly the escalation of conflict that was beginning to haunt Europe.

Indeed, his work has prompted fierce criticism, but has also inspired the establishing of an academic journal Contagion: The Journal of Violence, Mimesis and Culture , series of books, numerous associations, conferences, and symposia, and a considerable amount of interdisciplinary engagement among areas as diverse as economics, philosophy, psychology, theology, and musicology.

Girard is, at the very least, a provocateur, someone whose theories hold out consid- erable generative scope and, commensurately, much need for further scrutiny and analysis. Thanks to Equinox Publishing for permission to reuse some material from the original essay. Thanks also to Mindy Sotiri, John Fleming, Scott Cowdell, and Joel Hodge—and to an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on that earlier draft of this chapter.

Self and Other in Literary Structure , trans. Yvonne Freccero Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, Feodor Dostoevsky , trans. James G.

René Girard-The Scapegoat-The Johns Hopkins University Press ().pdf

Williams New York: Crossroad, Stephen Bann and Michael Metteer Stanford: Stanford University Press, , 7. Gallese and A. Rizzolatti and M. Additionally, the role of imitation in the behavior of nonhuman animals has also been a repeatedly studied feature of contemporary ethology F. DeWaal, Good Natured: Harvard University Press, ], 19—20, 71—3. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity [New York: Ben Brewster [London: Most recently, Scott Garrels has edited a fine collection on mimesis and science Mimesis and Science: Michigan State University Press, ].

Patrick Gregory Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, , Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind, trans. Baillie New York: Harper Torchbooks, Butler, Subjects of Desire: Columbia University Press, Seuil, , Smith on Ritual Killing and Cultural Formation, ed. Robert G. Hamerton-Kelly Stanford: Stanford University Press, , James Strachey, vol. Williams Maryknoll: Orbis Books, , Serres, Rome: The Book of Foundations, trans. Felicia McCarren Stanford: Stanford University Press, Alison, Raising Abel: Crossroad, ; J.

Alison, The Joy of Being Wrong: Crossroad, ; G. Bailie, Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads New York: Crossroad, ; S. Goodhart, Sacrificing Commentary: Johns Hopkins University Press, ; R. Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence: Fortress, ; R.

Hamerton-Kelly, The Gospel and the Sacred: Poetics of Violence in Mark Minneapolis: Fortress, ; J. Williams, The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred: HarperCollins, ; R. Schwager, Jesus in the Drama of Salvation: Toward a Biblical Doctrine of Redemption, trans. Williams and Paul Haddon New York: Crossroad, ; and R. Schwager, Must There be Scapegoats? Violence and Redemption in the Bible, 2nd edn, trans.

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Maria L. Assad New York: Jacques Derrida, On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness, trans. Routledge, , Fleming and J. Continuum, , — Nietzsche, The Will to Power, trans. Walter Kaufman and R.

Collingdale New York: Collingdale London:Mircea Eliade. The angry god is annoyed by a guilt that is not equally shared. Martindale Glencoe, IL: The following is the passage from the Judgment of the King of Navarre that deals with the Jews: Aliens imitate all the differences because they have none.

Henceforth the clearly lightweight quality of magic as a cause is weighted down by materiality and therefore "scientific" logic. Even today people cannot control a momentary recoil from physical abnormality.

Alison, Raising Abel: Fear is an insufficient explanation for this type ofbehavior. La Vie quotidienne des Azteques Paris: