Thursday, December 17, 2015

René Girard: Gone the Way of All Flesh

René Girard

René Girard died recently, and is remembered by John Ranieri in an article for Commonweal titled "Contagious Desire: Remembering René Girard." Back in my religious studies days, I grew interested in Girard's mimetic theory, which - in a nutshell - is as follows:
At the heart of his thought are three interconnected insights. The first (and perhaps the most fundamental) is the claim that human desire is mimetic, or imitative. His second is the understanding that conflicts generated by mimetic desire are resolved by means of scapegoating either single victims or vulnerable groups. The third (and most controversial) affirms the role of the Bible in exposing scapegoating and revealing a God who takes the side of victims.
Girard was the rare literary theorist who really knew what he was talking about when he stepped outside his field and talked about something theoretical, for instance, cultural anthropology, which he not only understood, he contributed something of substance - the little bit that you just read.



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