René Girard in 2007
25 December 1923|
|Residence||Stanford, California (United States)|
|Institutions||Duke University, Bryn Mawr College, Johns Hopkins University, State University of New York at Buffalo, Stanford University|
|Alma mater||Indiana University|
scapegoat mechanism as origin of sacrifice and foundation of human culture
René Girard (born December 25, 1923, Avignon, France) is a French historian, literary critic, and philosopher of social science. His work belongs to the tradition of anthropological philosophy. He is the author of several books (see below), in which he developed the following ideas:
- mimetic desire: imitation is an aspect of behaviour that not only affects learning but also desire, and imitated desire is a cause of conflict,
- the scapegoat mechanism is the origin of sacrifice and the foundation of human culture, and religion was necessary in human evolution to control the violence that can come from mimetic rivalry,
- the Bible reveals the two previous ideas and denounces the scapegoat mechanism.
René Girard's writings cover many areas. Although the reception of his work is different in each of these areas, there is a growing body of secondary literature that uses his hypotheses and ideas in the areas of literary criticism, critical theory, anthropology, theology, psychology, mythology, sociology, economics, cultural studies, and philosophy.
Life and career
René Noël Théophile Girard was born in Avignon, France, on December 25, 1923. Between 1943 and 1947, he studied medieval history at the École des Chartes, Paris. The subject of his thesis was "Private life in Avignon in the second half of the fifteenth century" (La vie privée à Avignon dans la seconde moitié du XVe siècle).
In 1947, Girard went to Indiana University on a one-year fellowship, but eventually pursued most of his career in the United States. The subject of his PhD at Indiana University was "American Opinion of France, 1940-1943". Although his research was in history, he was also assigned to teach French literature, the field in which he would first make his reputation as a literary critic by publishing influential essays on such authors as Albert Camus and Marcel Proust. He received his PhD in 1950 and stayed at Indiana University until 1953. He occupied positions at Duke University and Bryn Mawr College from 1953 to 1957, after which he moved to Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, where he became a full professor in 1961. In that year, he also published his first book: Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesque (Deceit, Desire and the Novel, 1966).
For several years, he moved back and forth between the State University of New York at Buffalo and Johns Hopkins University. The two most important books published in this period are La Violence et le sacré (1972; Violence and the Sacred, 1977) and Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde (1978; Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World, 1987).
In 1981 he became Andrew B. Hammond Professor of French Language, Literature, and Civilization at Stanford University, where he stayed until his retirement in 1995. During this period, he published Le Bouc émissaire (1982), La route antique des hommes pervers (1985), A Theatre of Envy: William Shakespeare (1991) and Quand ces choses commenceront ... (1994). In 1990, a group of scholars founded the Colloquium on Violence and Religion (COV&R) with a goal to "explore, criticize, and develop the mimetic model of the relationship between violence and religion in the genesis and maintenance of culture". This organization also organizes a yearly conference devoted to topics related to mimetic theory, scapegoating, violence, and religion. René Girard is Honorary Chair of COV&R. Cofounder and first president of the COV&R was the Roman Catholic theologian Raymund Schwager.
In 1985, he received his first honorary degree at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands; several others followed later. On March 17, 2005, René Girard was elected to the Académie française. He continues publishing articles and books.
His work has inspired interdisciplinary research projects and experimental research such as the Mimetic Theory project sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation.
A more detailed biographical sketch is available in The Girard Reader, edited by James G. Williams.
After almost a decade of teaching French literature in the United States, Girard began to develop a new way of speaking about literary texts. Beyond the "uniqueness" of individual works, he tried to discover their common structural properties after noticing that characters in great fiction evolved in a system of relationships otherwise common to the wider generality of novels. But there was a distinction to be made:
|“||Only the great writers succeed in painting these mechanisms faithfully, without falsifying them: we have here a system of relationships that paradoxically, or rather not paradoxically at all, has less variability the greater a writer is.||”|
So there did indeed exist "psychological laws" as Marcel Proust calls them. These laws and this system are the consequences of a fundamental reality grasped by the novelists, which Girard called the mimetic character of desire. This is the content of his first book, Deceit, Desire and the Novel (1961). We borrow our desires from others. Far from being autonomous, our desire for a certain object is always provoked by the desire of another person — the model — for this same object. This means that the relationship between the subject and the object is not direct: there is always a triangular relationship of subject, model, and object. Through the object, one is drawn to the model, whom Girard calls the mediator: it is in fact the model who is sought. René Girard calls desire "metaphysical" in the measure that, as soon as a desire is something more than a simple need or appetite, "all desire is a desire to be" , it is an aspiration, the dream of a fullness attributed to the mediator.
Mediation is external when the mediator of the desire is socially beyond the reach of the subject or, for example, a fictional character, as in the case of Amadis de Gaula and Don Quixote. The hero lives a kind of folly that nonetheless remains optimistic. Mediation is internal when the mediator is at the same level as the subject. The mediator then transforms into a rival and an obstacle to the acquisition of the object, whose value increases as the rivalry grows. This is the universe of the novels of Stendhal, Flaubert, Proust and Dostoevsky, which are particularly studied in this book.
Through their characters, our own behaviour is displayed. Everyone holds firmly to the illusion of the authenticity of one's own desires; the novelists implacably expose all the diversity of lies, dissimulations, maneuvers, and the snobbery of the Proustian heroes; these are all but "tricks of desire", which prevent one from facing the truth: envy and jealousy. These characters, desiring the being of the mediator, project upon him superhuman virtues while at the same time depreciating themselves, making him a god while making themselves slaves, in the measure that the mediator is an obstacle to them. Some, pursuing this logic, come to seek the failures that are the signs of the proximity of the ideal to which they aspire. This is masochism, which can turn into sadism.
This fundamental focus on mimetic desire would be pursued by René Girard throughout the rest of his career. It is interesting to note that the stress on imitation in humans was not a popular subject when Girard developed his theories, but today there is independent support for his claims coming from empirical research in psychology and neuroscience (see below).
Girard has recently written about positive mimesis found in the Christian tradition of Imitatio Dei or Imitatio Christi.
Violence and the sacred
Since the mimetic rivalry that develops from the struggle for the possession of the objects is contagious, it leads to the threat of violence. René Girard himself says, "If there is a normal order in societies, it must be the fruit of an anterior crisis."  Turning his interest towards the anthropological domain, René Girard began to study anthropological literature and proposed his second great hypothesis: the victimization process, which is at the origin of archaic religion and which he sets forth in his second book Violence and the Sacred (1972).
If two individuals desire the same thing, there will soon be a third, then a fourth. This process quickly snowballs. Since from the beginning the desire is aroused by the other (and not by the object) the object is soon forgotten and the mimetic conflict transforms into a general antagonism. At this stage of the crisis the antagonists will no longer imitate each other's desires for an object, but each other's antagonism. They wanted to share the same object, but now they want to destroy the same enemy. So, a paroxysm of violence would tend to focus on an arbitrary victim and a unanimous antipathy would, mimetically, grow against him. The brutal elimination of the victim would reduce the appetite for violence that possessed everyone a moment before, and leaves the group suddenly appeased and calm. The victim lies before the group, appearing simultaneously as the origin of the crisis and as the one responsible for this miracle of renewed peace. He becomes sacred, that is to say the bearer of the prodigious power of defusing the crisis and bringing peace back. René Girard believes this to be the genesis of archaic religion, of ritual sacrifice as the repetition of the original event, of myth as an account of this event, of the taboos that forbid access to all the objects at the origin of the rivalries that degenerated into this absolutely traumatizing crisis. This religious elaboration takes place gradually over the course of the repetition of the mimetic crises whose resolution brings only a temporary peace. The elaboration of the rites and of the taboos constitutes a kind of empirical knowledge about violence.
Although explorers and anthropologists have not been able to witness events similar to these, which go back to the earliest times, indirect evidence for them abounds, such as the universality of ritual sacrifice and the innumerable myths that have been collected from the most varied peoples. If Girard's theory is true, then we will find in myths the culpability of the victim-god, depictions of the selection of the victim, and his power to beget the order that governs the group. And René Girard found these elements in numerous myths, beginning with that of Oedipus, which he analyzed in this and later books. On this question he opposes Claude Lévi-Strauss.
In Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World (1978), Girard develops the implications of this discovery. The victimary process is the missing link between the animal world and the human world, the principle that explains the humanization of primates. It allows us to understand the need for sacrificial victims, which in turn explains the hunt which is primitively ritual, and the domestication of animals as a fortuitous result of the acclimatization of a reserve of victims, or agriculture. It shows that at the beginning of all culture is archaic religion, which Durkheim had sensed. The elaboration of the rites and taboos by proto-human or human groups would take infinitely varied forms while obeying a rigorous practical sense that we can detect: the prevention of the return of the mimetic crisis. So we can find in archaic religion the origin of all political or cultural institutions.
According to Girard, just as the theory of natural selection of species is the rational principle that explains the immense diversity of forms of life, the victimization process is the rational principle that explains the origin of the infinite diversity of cultural forms. The analogy with Darwin also extends to the scientific status of the theory, as each of these presents itself as a hypothesis that is not capable of being proven experimentally, given the extreme amounts of time necessary to the production of the phenomena in question, but which imposes itself by its great explanatory power.
The origin of language
According to René Girard, the origin of language is also related to scapegoating. After the first victim, after the murder of the first scapegoat, there were the first prohibitions and rituals, but these came into being before representation and language, hence before culture. And that means that "people" (perhaps not human beings) "will not start fighting again". René Girard says:
|“||If mimetic disruption comes back, our instinct will tell us to do again what the sacred has done to save us, which is to kill the scapegoat. Therefore it would be the force of substitution of immolating another victim instead of the first. But the relationship of this process with representation is not one that can be defined in a clear-cut way. This process would be one that moves towards representation of the sacred, towards definition of the ritual as ritual and prohibition as prohibition. But this process would already begin prior the representation, you see, because it is directly produced by the experience of the misunderstood scapegoat.||”|
According to Girard, the substitution of an immolated victim for the first, is "the very first symbolic sign created by the hominids". Girard also says this is the first time that one thing represents another thing, standing in the place of this (absent) one. 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."
Unlike Eric Gans, Girard does not think that there is an original scene during which there is "a sudden shift from non-representation to representation", or a sudden shift from animality to humanity. According to the French sociologist Camille Tarot, it is hard to understand how the process of representation (symbolicity, language...) actually occurs and he has called this a black box in René Girard's theory.
René Girard also says:
|“||One great characteristic of man is what they [the authors of the modern theory of evolution] call neoteny, the fact that the human infant is born premature, with an open skull, no hair and a total inability to fend for himself. 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.||”|
Biblical text as a science of man
In Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, René Girard discusses for the first time Christianity and the Bible. 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 bodily 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 inasmuch 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.
The evangelical "good news" clearly affirms the innocence of the victim, thus becoming, by attacking ignorance, the germ of the destruction of the sacrificial order on which rests the equilibrium of societies. 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 13:35), the foundation of social order on murder, described in all its repulsive ugliness in the account of the Passion.
This revelation is even clearer because the text is a work on desire and violence, from the serpent setting alight the desire of Eve in paradise to the prodigious strength of the mimetism that brings about the denial of Peter during the Passion (Mark 14: 66-72; Luke 22:54-62). 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") as signifying mimetic rivalry, for example Peter's denial of Jesus. No one escapes responsibility, neither the envious nor the envied: "Woe to the man through whom scandal comes" (Matthew 18:7).
The evangelical revelation contains the truth on the violence, available for two thousand years, René Girard tells us. 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 René 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.
Does the retreat of the sacrificial order mean less violence? 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.
Reception and criticism
Older discussions of mimetic desire
René Girard often wrote that writers were the first to articulate the concept of mimetic desire. Stéphane Vinolo writes that some philosophers also expressed the concept. He quotes Baruch Spinoza in his Ethics (Part. III Prop. XXVII):
|“|| By the very fact that we conceive a thing, which is like ourselves, and which we have not regarded with any emotion, to be affected with any emotion, we are ourselves affected with a like emotion. [And the "proof"] If we conceive anyone similar to ourselves as affected by any emotion, this conception will express of our body similar to that emotion.</blockquote>
Vinolo also quotes Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan: "From this equality of ability, arose equality of hope in the attaining of our ends. And therefore if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless cannot both enjoy, they become enemies..."
Wolfgang Palaver wrote about Alexis de Tocqueville: "Two hundred years after Hobbes, the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville mentioned the dangers coming along with equality, too. Like Hobbes, he refers to the increase of mimetic desire coming along with equality. And he quoted Tocqueville's Democracy in America:
|“||When all the privileges of birth and fortune are abolished, when all professions are accessible to all, and a man's own energies may place him at the top of any one of them, an easy and unbound career seems open to his ambition and he will readily persuade himself that he is borne to no common destinies. But this is an erroneous notion, which is corrected by daily experience. The same equality that allows every citizen to conceive these lofty hopes renders all the citizens less able to realize them; it circumscribes their powers on every side, while it gives freer scope to their desires. Not only are they themselves powerless, but they are met at every step by immense obstacles, which they did not first perceive. They have swept away the privileges of some of their fellow creatures which stood in their way, but they have opened the door to universal competition; the barrier has changed its shape rather than its position.||”|
In this case René Girard is absolutely aware of his intellectual debt to Tocqueville. Taking the Montréal Massacre as a starting point, Palaver questions the origin of contemporary human violence:
|“||Girard's mimetic theory helps us to explain the rise of violence in egalitarian and competitive societies. The more our pride and ambition forces us to be foremost the more likely it becomes that we will be defeated. Trying to be ahead of all the others forces us to turn them all into our rivals. We are never satisfied as long as there is anyone in front of us. Mimetic rivalry leads us to run those races which we cannot win and directs us towards insurmountable obstacles. The more we try to succeed the more we will increase the resistance against our claim. Resistance soon becomes the object of our quest itself and will lead to an idolization of violence. If only those objects are worth to fight for which we cannot get, we are easily led to the fatal conclusion that violence is the true God of the world. We seek defeat because it brings us closer to this God and we will also use violence ourselves because by imitating this God we hope we soon can become his equal. Mimetic desire has a tendency to fetishize violence and it would not be wrong to conclude that all anthropological and philosophical theories that result in an ontology of violence - like Hegel dialectics - are in fact worshiping this false God.||”|
This explanation leads back to literature and to Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov as Girard interpreted it.
Another source of contention is Girard's seeming to have left no role for beneficial imitation. Rebecca Adams argues that because Girard's theories fixate on violence, he creates a 'scapegoat' himself with his own theory: the scapegoat of positive mimesis. Adams proposes a reassessment of Girard's theory that includes an account of loving mimesis or, as she prefers to call it, creative mimesis. Some say there is also a good mimesis in the thought of Girard, for instance the imitation of Jesus. Another possible instance is the imitation of the "external mediation" when the model is "far" from me as, for instance, Amadis in Cervantes's Don Quixote. In this last case, it is not a "good" imitation, but some "Girardians" point out the positive aspects of external mediation. Jean-Michel Oughourlian takes the example of the imitation of a politician: "The imitation can be totally peaceful and beneficial; I don't believe that I am the other, I don't want to take his place [...] This imitation can lead me to become sensitive to the social and political problems..." It is also possible to quote this sentence from a short presentation of Girard's theory: "(...) Young children imitate their teachers as closely as possible and are even encouraged to do so, but within an educational frame that maintains a certain distance between subject and model, prohibiting confusion. If many little girls want to become schoolmistress, it is later, and all is in this 'later'." 
Place in the anthropological tradition
The accurate relationship of Girard's thought with both Christian faith and science is hard to explain. In Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde Girard wrote: "The authentic knowledge about violence and all its works to be found in the Gospels cannot be the result of human action alone." A few years later, Belgian anthropologist Luc de Heusch, reacted violently in Le Monde with an article entitled "L'Evangile selon Saint-Girard" ("The Gospel according to Saint Girard"). De Heusch, who is an agnostic, stated that Girard's thought was not anthropology but metaphysics. In Quand les choses commenceront (1994) René Girard wrote: "Jean-Marie Domenach thinks that I am trying to give a scientific demonstration of faith. I know that a demonstration of faith is impossible, but faith is not alone. There is also the understanding, and the great Christian tradition had always been saying that there is a deep agreement between faith and understanding. That's this agreement I am trying to define."
According to Charles K. Bellinger, Girard provides a "secular account of the origin of religion among primitive people." In Les origines de la culture (2004), Pierpaolo Antonello and Joao Cezar de Castro Rocha say: "Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World is a theory of the hominisation and of the origin of culture in a naturalistic framework, firstly in combining ethnology and anthropology," and Girard answers immediately without rejecting this presentation of his thought.
In 2008, Camille Tarot wrote: "Girard's Christian faith affects theology and the social sciences in different ways. François Lagarde spoke of a 'Christianisation' of the social sciences. People might have expected that the theologians would denounce the 'anthropologisation' of the theology and thus a 'humanisation' of Christianity. It is astonishing that nobody has done this." In fact, Tarot is wrong: Father Valandier, the Director of the review Etudes (a journal started by Jesuits), is very critical of Girard because of this confusion between science and Christianity or between science and faith. According to Jean Greisch (with many nuances), Girard's thought is more or less a kind of Gnosis.
In an article published in September 2008 Lucien Scubla claimed that René Girard's work finds its place in the tradition of great antropologists such as Sigmund Freud, Arthur Maurice Hocart, Henri Hubert, Marcel Mauss, and Robertson Smith, who all pointed out the importance of sacrifice at the origin of humanity. Girard also works in the tradition of Emile Durkheim, who pointed out the absolute link between religion and society. For Scubla, Girard gathered many elements of all these authors and combined them into an original synthesis based on the scapegoating phenomenon. Scubla states that Girard's thought is the "first radically agnostic theory of religion" and "includes all these theories into a simpler and broader system [which] overtakes the domain of religion".
The Bible and myth
Some critics claim that Girard dedicates almost no attention to the frequently violent character of YHWH in the Hebrew Bible and immediately disregards any non-violent aspect of non-Christian religions. However, in Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World he claims he is not ashamed of Old Testament texts that mystify violence and analyzes many of the more important books of the Old Testament. The Old Testament is very important for his theory. One should also add that Girard does not disregard the non-violent aspects of non-Christian religions. His defence of Christianity has nothing to do with the idea of "non-violence". Girard stresses that Christianity does not promise peace but promises truth. According to Girard, it de-mystifies the "peace of the world". All religions, he says, even the most violent ones, are aimed toward peace. Archaic societies ritually repeat the scapegoat solution to make peace. When discussing the established historical structures of Christianity in Things Hidden though, he presents it as a struggle between the ingrained sacrificial order inherent in human culture as we know it and the repudiation of mimetic fighting and indeed of cultural endeavour presented in the New Testament. The churches and historical Christianity and their teaching, according to this reasoning, have partly disarmed the insight of the gospels for nearly two thousand years, but at the same time, by spreading the Word to the ends of the earth and undoing earlier sacrificial religions the churches have paved the way for a final wave of revelation and of the coming together of humanity.
Out of this eschatological perspective on history and on the role of the church, Girard is scathingly critical of secular humanism and liberal values, which he describes as cheap attempts to expand a cultural freedom no longer threatened by any institutions, least of all by the churches, and a dangerous over-confidence in the ability of mankind to save herself through (mimetic) effort.
One of the main sources of criticism of Girard's work comes from intellectuals who claim that his comparison of Judeo-Christian texts vis-a-vis other religions leaves something to be desired. Many Bible scholars have criticized Girard's interpretation of the Bible, finding no evidence that the Hebrew or Christian Scriptures expose what Girard considers to be the true nature of myth. Robert Price argues that if Girard's hermeneutic is applied consistently, it becomes apparent that the gospels are also myth (and not in the unique, positive sense that Girard sometimes ascribes to it). Obviously, Girard's view of history - the role of the church (see above) and his description of non-Christian societies as directly rooted in sacrifice and murder perpetuated through their religions and social orders - could also be seen as a defence of colonialism. Moreover, his sweeping indictments of science, secular enlightenment and of other theories competing with his own in Things Hidden and later works often seem to imply an appeal to a "leap of faith" which would exclude reasoned discussion.
Psychology and neuroscience
René Girard's work is also attracting increasing interest from empirical researchers investigating human imitation (among them Andrew Meltzoff and Vittorio Gallese). Girard's views on imitation (developed decades before empirical research prompted a resurgence of interest in the matter) resonate with the most recent findings. 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 (...) during a time when imitation was quite out of fashion, but he did so through investigation in literature, cultural anthropology, history, and ultimately returning to religious texts for further evidence of mimetic phenomena. 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 (...).||”|
Economics and globalization
The mimetic theory has also been applied in the study of economics, most notably in La violence de la monnaie (1982) by Michel Aglietta and André Orléan. Orléan was also a contributor to the volume René Girard in Les cahiers de l'Herne ("Pour une approche girardienne de l'homo oeconomicus") . According to the philosopher of technology Andrew Feenberg:
|“||In La violence de la monnaie, Aglietta and Orléan follow Girard in suggesting that the basic relation of exchange can be interpreted as a conflict of 'doubles', each mediating the desire of the Other. Like Henri 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.||”|
In an interview with the Unesco Courier, anthropologist and social theorist Mark Anspach (editor of the René Girard issue of Les Cahiers de l'Herne) explains that Aglietta and Orléan (who were very critical about the economic rationality) argue that the classical theory of economics as a myth:
|“||The economists' myth tells us that exchange fulfills a simple instrumental function. You live in a community that produces yams and I live in a community that raises pigs, so we [...] invent a system of equivalence between our products - money - and there you have it. But, as anthropologists have shown us, Marcel Mauss in particular, the main form of exchange in so-called 'primitive' societies is the gift, which cannot be reduced to economic rationality.||”|
According to Anspach, the actual justification of exchange is in reality ... exchange, the desire of a relationship with other men and women. In order to reach the peaceful reciprocity on which humanity is based as against the reciprocity of what Girard calls mimetic rivalry, the latter is overtaken by the sacrifice - representing the end of the vicious circle of violence and vengeance and the beginning of gift economy :"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. Now you have set in motion a positive circularity." But the gift may be dangerous; it may be a so huge gift (as in potlach) that it humiliates the other: you may want, firstly, to display your prestige, to present yourself as better, richer, or stronger. The "economic rationality", however, tends to liberate the seller and the buyer of any other obligations than to give money. Reciprocal violence is eliminated by the sacrifice, obligations of vengeance by the gift, and finally the possibly dangerous gift by "economic rationality". This rationality, however, creates new victims, as for instance so many children dying of hunger every day. When a plane crashes and several hundred people are killed, there is an inquiry. But there is no inquiry about hunger: the market is guilty:
|“||Nobody is individually responsible for a violence which is collectively accepted, just as the violence of sacrifice is collectively accepted [...] Globalization means the development of market exchange among the nations. Now, despite the existence of the United Nations, the international arena still displays one of the essential features of primitive society: the absence of State [...] I am skeptical about the idea that an expansion of international trade leads to peace. The same idea was expressed the last time a comparable level of economic integration between countries was reached, early in the last century. And then the First World War came along and dispelled the illusion.||”|
Anspach also quotes Ahmet İnsel's estimation of the gift economy (families, non-profit organisations etcetera) as approximately three-quarters of the French GDP. He makes an interesting comparison between Adam Smith's "invisible hand" and the gods behind the ejected violence into the rituals. A similar comparison has been made by the economist John Grahl in the paper Money as Sovereignty: the Economics of Michel Aglietta:
|“||In primitive society, institutionalised by ritual and sacrifice, there is no real money because desires for being are focused not on things but directly on other persons and their conduct. In a second era the monarch or sovereign emerges as a more stable institutionalised representative of the sacred excluded/elected victim: here money has a secondary status as reflecting the monarch and his sacred prerogatives. Finally in mercantile society, with the kind of long-distance exchange relations explored by Braudel (1979), money escapes the control of the sovereign and becomes in itself the primary embodiment of wealth.||”|
Grahl Aglietta and Orléan’s interpretation of Girard presents analogies with Hobbesian politics, as sovereignty (a recognised monetary system) emerges to regulate unlimited struggle to seize wealth (accaparement). By diverting desire onto an object excluded from everyday production and consumption, the monetary order permits the embrace of a host of lesser, profane objects shielded from acute rivalry.
|“||The analogy is clear: speculation, as uncontrolled imitative rivalry in the search for authentic wealth, is the violence which menaces modern economies; but it is this speculation itself, when it becomes the unanimous pursuit of a single asset, which gives rise to the monetary order; the latter may then be able to cool speculative passions and divert them into the production of profane, non-monetary goods.||”|
The key difference with Hobbes is that the idea of a social covenant is seen from a Girardian point of view as a typical obfuscation of the true, violent origins of social order - peace and stability emerging from the bellum omnium contra omnes - through the coalescence of enmity onto a sacralised victim.
Honours and awards
- Honorary degrees at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (the Netherlands, 1985), UFSIA in Antwerp (Belgium, 1995), the Università degli Studi di Padova (Italy, 2001, honorary degree in "Arts"), the faculty of theology at the University of Innsbruck (Austria), the Université de Montréal (Canada, 2004), and the University of St Andrews (UK, 2008).
- The Prix Médicis essai for Shakespeare, les feux de l'envie (A Theatre of Envy: William Shakespeare, 1991)
- The prix Aujourd'hui for Les origines de la culture (2004)
- Guggenheim Fellow (1959 and 1966)
This section only lists book-length publications that René Girard wrote or edited. For articles and interviews by René Girard, the reader can refer to the database maintained at the University of Innsbruck. Some of the books below reprint articles (To Double Business Bound, 1978; Oedipus Unbound, 2004; Mimesis and Theory,2008) or are based on articles (A Theatre of Envy, 1991).
- 1961. Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesque. Paris: Grasset. Reprinted 2001: ISBN 2246040728. (English translation: Deceit, Desire and the Novel: Self and Other in Literary Structure. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1966. ISBN 0801818303).
- 1962. Proust: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.
- 1963. Dostoïevski, du double à l'unité. Paris: Plon. (English translation: Resurrection from the Underground: Feodor Dostoevsky. Crossroad Publishing Company. 1997)
- 1972. La Violence et le Sacré. Paris: Grasset. ISBN 978-2246000518. (English translation: Violence and the Sacred. Translated by Patrick Gregory. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977. ISBN 0801822181.) The reprint in the Pluriel series (1996; ISBN 2010089847) contains a section entitled "Critiques et commentaires", which reproduces several reviews of La Violence et le Sacré.
- 1976. Critique dans un souterrain. Lausanne: L'Age d'Homme. Reprint 1983, Livre de Poche: ISBN 978-2253032984. This book contains Dostoïevski, du double à l'unité and a number of other essays published between 1963 and 1972.
- 1978. To Double Business Bound: Essays on Literature, Mimesis, and Anthropology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0801836558. This book contains essays from Critique dans un souterrain but not those on Dostoyevski.
- 1978. Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde. Paris: Grasset. ISBN 224661841X. (English translation: Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World: Research undertaken in collaboration with J.-M. Oughourlian and G. Lefort. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987)
- 1982. Le Bouc émissaire. Paris: Grasset. ISBN 2246267811. (English translation: The Scapegoat. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986)
- 1985. La Route antique des hommes pervers. Paris: Grasset. ISBN 2246351111. (English translation: Job, the Victim of His People. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987)
- 1988. Violent Origins: Walter Burkert, Rene Girard, and Jonathan Z. Smith on Ritual Killing and Cultural Formation. Ed. by Robert Hamerton-Kelly. Palo Alto, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0804715181.
- 1991. A Theatre of Envy: William Shakespeare. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195053397. The French translation, Shakespeare : les feux de l'envie, was published before the original English text.
- 1994. Quand ces choses commenceront ... Entretiens avec Michel Treguer. Paris: arléa. ISBN 2869593007.
- 1996. The Girard Reader. Ed. by. James G. Williams. New York: Crossroad. ISBN 0824516346.
- 1999. Je vois Satan tomber comme l'éclair. Paris: Grasset. ISBN 2246267919. (English translation: I See Satan Fall Like Lightning. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2001)
- 2000. Um Longo Argumento do princípio ao Fim: Diálogos com João Cezar de Castro Rocha e Pierpaolo Antonello. Rio de Janeiro: Topbooks. ISBN 8574750204. (French translation: Les origines de la culture. Entretiens avec Pierpaolo Antonello et João Cezar de Castro Rocha. Paris: Desclée de Brouwer, 2004. ISBN 978-2220053554. The French translation was upgraded in consultation with René Girard. English translation: Evolution and Conversion: Dialogues on the Origins of Culture. London: Continuum, 2008. ISBN 978-0567032522.)
- 2001. Celui par qui le scandale arrive: Entretiens avec Maria Stella Barberi. Paris: Desclée de Brouwer. ISBN 978-2220050119.
- 2002. La Voix méconnue du réel: Une théorie des mythes archaïques et modernes. Paris: Grasset. ISBN 978-2246611011.
- 2003. Le sacrifice. Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France. ISBN 978-2717722635.
- 2004. Oedipus Unbound: Selected Writings on Rivalry and Desire. Ed. by Mark R. Anspach. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0804747806.
- 2006. Verità o fede debole. Dialogo su cristianesimo e relativismo. With Gianni Vattimo. (English: Truth or Weak Faith. Dialogue about Christianity and Relativism. With Gianni Vattimo. A cura di P. Antonello, Transeuropa Edizioni, Massa. ISBN 9788875800185
- 2007. Dieu, une invention? Editions de l'Atelier. With André Gounelle and Alain Houziaux. ISBN 978-2708239227.
- 2007. Le Tragique et la Pitié: Discours de réception de René Girard à l'Académie française et réponse de Michel Serres. Editions le Pommier. ISBN 978-2746503205.
- 2007. De la violence à la divinité. Paris: Grasset. (Contains Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesque, La violence et le Sacré, Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde and Le bouc émissaire, with a new general introduction). ISBN 978-2246721116.
- 2007. Achever Clausewitz. (Entretiens avec Benoît Chantre) Ed. by Carnets Nord. Paris. ISBN 978-2-35536-002-2.
- 2008. Anorexie et désir mimétique. Paris: L'Herne. ISBN 978-2851978639.
- 2008. Mimesis and Theory: Essays on Literature and Criticism, 1953-2005. Ed. by Robert Doran. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0804755801. This book brings together twenty essays on literature and literary theory.
- 2008. La Conversion de l'art. Paris: Carnets Nord. (Book with DVD Le Sens de l'histoire, a conversation with Benoît Chantre) ISBN 978-2355360169.
Notes and references
- ↑ Noël is also French for "Christmas", the day on which René Girard was born.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 An excerpt from this thesis was reprinted in the René Girard issue of Les Cahiers de l'Herne (2008)
- ↑ 'The rationale for and goals of "The Bulletin of the Colloquium on Violence & Religion"' COV&R-Bulletin No. 1 (September 1991)
- ↑ "Constitution and By-Laws of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion" COV&R-Bulletin No. 6 (March 1994)
- ↑ Imitation, Mimetic Theory, and Religions and Cultural Evolution - A Templeton Advanced Research Program.
- ↑ James G. Williams: "René Girard: A Biographical Sketch". The Girard Reader, ed. James G. Williams. New York: Crossroad, 1996, p. 1-6. See also René Girard: A Biographical Sketch.
- ↑ Quand ces choses commenceront..." (1994): p. 32.
- ↑ For example in Time Regained (Le Temps retrouvé, volume 7 of Remembrance of Things Past): "It is the feeling for the general in the potential writer, which selects material suitable to a work of art because of its generality. He only pays attention to others, however dull and tiresome, because in repeating what their kind say like parrots, they are for that very reason prophetic birds, spokesmen of a psychological law." In French: "(...)c'est le sentiment du général qui dans l'écrivain futur choisit lui-même ce qui est général et pourra entrer dans l'œuvre d'art. Car il n'a écouté les autres que quand, si bêtes ou si fous qu'ils fussent, répétant comme des perroquets ce que disent les gens de caractère semblable, ils s'étaient faits par là même les oiseaux prophètes, les porte-paroles d'une loi psychologique."
- ↑ Quand ces choses commenceront, p28
- ↑ Quand ces choses commenceront p29
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Markus Müller, Interview with René Girard, Anthropoetics II, no. 1 (June 1996) consulted November 2008.
- ↑ René Girard, Les origines de la culture, Desclée de Brouwer, Paris, 2004, p.157 ISBN 2-220-05355-5. We translate the French sentence le "premier signe symbolique jamais inventé par les hominidés": "jamais" in the context means "absolutely the first".
- ↑ Camille Tarot, Le symbolique et le sacré. Paris: La Découverte, 2008, p.860
- ↑ Skandalon in The New Testament Greek Lexicon.
- ↑ See also René Girard: "Are the Gospels Mythical?". First Things (April 1996).
- ↑ See for instance, René Girard, Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesque, Grasset, Paris, 1961, p. 23: "Only the novelists revealed the desire's mimetic nature.
- ↑ Ethica Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata Part. III Prop. XXVII : Ex eo, quod rem nobis similem, et quam nullo affectu prosecuti sumus, aliquo affecti imaginamur, eo ipso simili affectu afficimur quoted by Stéphane Vinolo, René Girard: Du mimétisme à l'hominisation, L'Harmattan, Paris, 2005, p. 20 ISBN 2-7475-9047-X. English translation H. M. Elwes's 1883 English Translation THE ETHICS - PART III On the Origin and Nature of the Emotions
- ↑ H. M. Elwes's 1883 English Translation THE ETHICS - PART III On the Origin and Nature of the Emotions
- ↑ Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, I,13, World's classic, Oxford University Press, 1996, p. 83. Quoted by S.Vinolo in S.Vinolo René Girard: Du mimétisme à l'hominisation, pp. 33-34
- ↑ Wolfgang Palaver: De la violence: une approche mimétique Traduit de l´anglais par Paul Dumouchel. In Paul Dumouchel (Directeur), Comprendre pour agir: violences, victimes et vengeances. Paris: L´Harmattan, 2000, pp. 89–110. ISBN 2763777716 English version
- ↑ A. de Tocqueville: De la démocratie en Amérique, II, 2, chapitre 13, Editions Robert Laffont, Paris, 1986, p. 522. English Translation : Tocqueville, Alexis de. 1990. Democracy in America Ed. by. P. Bradley. Vol. II. New York: Vintage Books, p. 137
- ↑ René Girard. 1965. Deceit, Desire and the Novel: Self and Other in Literary Structure Translated by Y. Freccero, The Johns Hopkins University Press,Baltimore, 1965 p. 120
- ↑ Wolfgang Palaver: De la violence: une approche mimétique English version
- ↑ Rebecca Adams (2000). "Loving Mimesis and Girard's "Scapegoat of the Text": A Creative Reassessment of Mimetic Desire" (PDF). Pandora Press U.S.. http://web.ustpaul.uottawa.ca/covr2006/Document/RebeccaGirard.pdf. Retrieved 2008-07-09.
- ↑ Jean-Michel Oughourlian: Genèse du désir. Paris: Carnets Nord, 2007, ISBN 978-2-35536-009-9. The French sentence goes: "L'imitation peut alors demeurer entièrement paisible et bénéfique; je ne me prends pas pour l'autre, je ne veux pas prendre sa place [...] Cette imitation [...] me conduira peut-être à me sensibiliser aux problèmes sociaux et politiques...
- ↑ Philippe Cottet: The mimetic desire. French: "De même les jeunes enfants imitent au plus près leurs éducateurs, on les y encourage même, mais à l'intérieur d'un cadre pédagogique qui maintient une certaine distance entre sujet et modèle, interdisant la confusion. Si beaucoup de petites filles veulent devenir maîtresses d'école, c'est plus tard, et tout est dans ce 'plus tard'." (Le désir mimétique)
- ↑ Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World. Translated by Stephen Bann, Michael Leigh Metteer. Continuum, 1987, p. 219. The French text reads: "Le fait qu'un savoir authentique de la violence et de ses œuvres soit enfermé dans les Évangiles ne peut pas être d'origine simplement humaine." (Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde. Paris: Grasset, 1978, p. 242)
- ↑ Luc de Heusch: "L'Evangile selon Saint-Girard" Le Monde, 25 june 1982, p. 19.
- ↑ French: "Jean-Marie Domenach pense que je cherche à démontrer scientifiquement la foi. Je sais que la foi est indémontrable, mais elle n'est pas seule. Il y a aussi l'intelligence, et la grande tradition chrétienne a toujours affirmé un accord fondamental entre la foi et l'intelligence. C'est cet accord que je cherche à définir" (Quand ces choses commenceront. Entretiens avec Michel Tréguer, Paris: Arléa, 1994 p. 160 ISBN 2-86959-200-0
- ↑ Charles K. Bellinger: "The Crowd is Untruth: a Comparison of Kierkegaard and Girard" Contagion: A Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture 3 (1996): 103-119.
- ↑ René Girard: Les origines de la culture. Entretiens avec Pierpaolo Antonello and Joao Cezar de Castro Rocha, Paris: Desclée de Brouwer, 2004, p. 144.
- ↑ Camille Tarot: La symbolique et le sacré, p. 651. French "Le christianisme de Girard concerne différemment la théologie et les sciences sociales. Lagarde a parlé de 'christianisation' de celles-ci. On aurait pu s'attendre à ce que les théologiens dénoncent une 'anthropologisation', de la théologie et donc une 'humanisation' du christianisme."
- ↑ Paul Valadier: "René Girard revisité" in Etudes August-September 1982 pp. 251-260
- ↑ Jean Greisch "Une anthropologie fondamentale du rite: René Girard." in Le rite. Philosophie Institut catholique de Paris, présentation de Jean Greisch. Paris, Beauchesne, 1981.
- ↑ French: "la première théorie rigoureusement agnostique de la religion", "Ni variante ni récapitulation des théories passées, elle les rassemble dans un système à la fois plus simple et plus large [qui] dépasse le domaine du religieux" Lucien Scubla, "René Girard ou la renaissance de l'anthropologie religieuse" in René Girard, Cahiers de l'Herne. Paris: L'Herne, 2008 pp.105-109, p. 109 ISBN 978-2-85197-152-4
- ↑ Price, Robert M. Deconstructing Jesus. Amherst: Prometheus Books. 2000. p. 176.
- ↑ Price, Robert M. Deconstructing Jesus. Amherst: Prometheus Books. 2000. p. 177.
- ↑ Scott R. Garrels: Imitation, Mirror Neurons, & Mimetic Desire: Convergent Support for the Work of Rene Girard, 1 May 2004, p. 29 (This is an earlier version of the paper that appeared in the 2006 issue of Contagion: Garrels, Scott R. "Imitation, Mirror Neurons and Mimetic Desire: Convergence between the Mimetic Theory of René Girard and Empirical Research on Imitation”, in Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture, vol. 12-13 (2006), p.47-86.)
- ↑ Cahier de L'Herne n°89 : René Girard, pp. 261-265)
- ↑ "Fetishism and Form: Erotic and Economic Disorder in Literature" in Paul Dumouchel (ed.), Violence and Truth, Athlone Press & Stanford University Press, 1988, pages 134-151 Fetishism and Form:Erotic and Economic Disorder in Literature
- ↑ 41.0 41.1 41.2 Mark Anspach: "Global markets, anonymous victims" (Interview by Yannick Blanc and Michel Bessières, in The UNESCO Courrier, May, 2001.
- ↑ 42.0 42.1 John Grahl, Money as Sovereignty: the Economics of Michel Aglietta
- ↑ Università degli Studie di Padova: Honoris causa degrees
- ↑ Marie-Claude Bourdon: La violence et le sacré: L’Université remet un doctorat honoris causa au penseur René Girard iForum vol. 38 num. 28 (19 april 2004)
- ↑ University of St Andrews: Honorary degrees - June 2008.
- ↑ John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation: Fellows page: G
- ↑ Simon Simonse: "Review of René Girard, Les origines de la culture" COV&R Bulletin, No. 26 (April 2005), p. 10-11.
- Aglietta, Michel & Orléan, André: La violence de la monnaie. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France (PUF), 1982. ISBN 2130374859.
- Alison, James (1998). The Joy of Being Wrong. Herder & Herder. ISBN 0824516761.
- Anspach, Mark (Ed.; 2008). René Girard. Les Cahiers de l'Herne Nr. 89. Paris: L'Herne. ISBN 978-2851971524. A collection of articles by René Girard and a number of other authors.
- Bailie, Gil (1995). Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads. Introduction by René Girard. New York: Crossroad. ISBN 0824516451.
- Bellinger, Charles (2001). The Genealogy of Violence: Reflections on Creation, Freedom, and Evil. New York: Oxford. ISBN 0195134982.
- Depoortere, Frederiek (2008). Christ in Postmodern Philosophy: Gianni Vattimo, Rene Girard, and Slavoj Zizek. London: Continuum. ISBN 0567033325.
- Dumouchel, Paul (Ed.; 1988). Violence and Truth: On the Work of René Girard. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0804713383.
- Fleming, Chris (2004). René Girard: Violence and Mimesis. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 0745629482. This is an introduction to René Girard's work.
- Golsan, Richard J. (1993). René Girard and Myth: An Introduction. New York & London: Garland. (Reprinted by Routledge, 2002. ISBN 0415937779.)
- Hamerton-Kelly, Robert G. (1991). Sacred Violence: Paul's Hermeneutic of the Cross. Fortress Press. ISBN 0800625293.
- Hamerton-Kelly, Robert G. & Johnsen, William (Eds.; 2008). Politics & Apocalypse (Studies in Violence, Mimesis, and Culture Series). Michigan State University Press. ISBN 978-0870138119.
- Heim, Mark (2006). Saved from Sacrifice: A Theology of the Cross. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. ISBN 0802832156 .
- Kirwan, Michael (2004). Discovering Girard. London: Darton, Longman & Todd. ISBN 0232525269. This is an introduction to René Girard's work.
- Lagarde, François (1994). René Girard ou la christianisation des sciences humaines. New York: Peter Lang. ISBN 0820422894. This book is both an introduction and a critical discussion of Girard's work, starting with Girard's early articles on Malraux and Saint-John Perse, and ending with A Theatre of Envy.
- Livingston, Paisley (1992). Models of Desire: René Girard and the Psychology of Mimesis. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801843855.
- McKenna, Andrew J. (Ed.; 1985). René Girard and Biblical Studies (Semeia 33). Scholars Press. ISBN 9995387638.
- McKenna, Andrew J. (1992). Violence and Difference: Girard, Derrida, and Deconstruction. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0252062025.
- Mikolajewska, Barbara (1999). Desire Came upon that One in the Beginning... Creation Hymns of the Rig Veda. 2nd edition. New Haven: The Lintons' Video Press. ISBN 0965952916.
- Mikolajewska, Barbara & Linton, F. E. J. (2004). Good Violence Versus Bad: A Girardian Analysis of King Janamejaya's Snake Sacrifice and Allied Events. New Haven: The Lintons' Video Press. ISBN 978-1929865291.
- Swartley, William M. (Ed.; 2000). Violence Renounced: Rene Girard, Biblical Studies and Peacemaking. Telford: Pandora Press. ISBN 0966502159.
- Tarot, Camille (2008). Le symbolique et le sacré. Paris: La Découverte. ISBN 978-2-7071-5428-6. This book discusses eight theories of religion, namely those by Émile Durkheim, Marcel Mauss, Mircea Eliade, George Dumézil, Claude Lévi-Strauss, René Girard, Pierre Bourdieu and Marcel Gauchet.
- Wallace, Mark I. & Smith, Theophus H. (1994). Curing Violence : Essays on Rene Girard. Polebridge Press. ISBN 0944344437.
- To Honor René Girard. Presented on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday by colleagues, students, friends (1986). Stanford French and Italian Studies 34. Saratoga, California: Anma Libri. ISBN 0915838036. This volume also contains a bibliography of Girard's writings before 1986.
- Girard-Database: searchable database provided by the University of Innsbruck, Austria. Accessed 25 November 2008
- Dietmar Regensburger: Bibliography of René Girard. The most detailed bibliography, ending in 2003. Accessed 24 November 2008
- Dietmar Regensburger: Bibliography of Literature on the Mimetic Theory of René Girard. Updates appear periodically in the Bulletin of the Colloquium on Violence & Religion. Accessed 25 November 2008
- The René Girard Bibliography. A short list of publications. Accessed 24 November 2008
Interviews, articles and lectures by René Girard
In chronological order.
- René Girard: "Are the Gospels Mythical?" in First Things: A Journal of Religion, Culture, and Public Life, April 1996. See also "August/September Letters" in First Things: A Journal of Religion, Culture, and Public Life, August/September 1996, for follow-up correspondence. Accessed 24 November 2008
- Girard lecture, on Violence, Victims and Christianity (Oxford 1997) Accessed 24 November 2008
- "What Is Occurring Today Is a Mimetic Rivalry on a Planetary Scale" Interview by Henri Tincq, Le Monde, November 6, 2001. Translated by Jim Williams. Original title: "Ce qui se joue aujourd'hui est une rivalité mimétique à l'échelle planétaire".
- "Violence & the Lamb Slain". Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, December 2003. A short, accessible introduction to Girardian thought, plus an interview with Girard. Accessed 24 November 2008
- Ratzinger Is Right in New Perspectives Quarterly (NPQ) Volume 22, Number 3 (Summer 2005). On Pope Benedict XVI and relativism. Accessed 24 November 2008
- Interviews with Girard on mimetic desire (Saturday, September 17, 2005) and on ritual, myth, and religion (Tuesday, October 4, 2005) by Robert P. Harrison on Entitled Opinions. Accessed 24 November 2008
- "The J'Accuse of Rene Girard: The Audacious ideas of a great thinker" Interview with Girard by Giulio Meotti, Il Foglio, March 20, 2007. (Translation by Francis R. Hittinger IV.) Accessed 24 November 2008
- (French) Reception speech of René Girard. This speech does not discuss his own work but is a eulogy of his predecessor. Accessed 24 November 2008
- Robert Doran: Apocalyptic Thinking after 9/11: An Interview with René Girard SubStance 115 (Volume 37, Number 1, 2008. Accessed 24 November 2008
- (French) Centre Pompidou: Traces du sacré: René Girard, le sens de l'histoire. Excerpts from a conversation with Benoît Chantre (see La conversion de l'art). Accessed 24 November 2008
- Cynthia Haven, René Girard: Stanford's provocative immortel is a one-man institution, Stanford Report, 11 June 2008.
- Cynthia Haven, René Girard: Stanford's provocative immortel is a one-man institution, Stanford Report, 11 June 2008.
- Grant Kaplan, An Interview with René Girard, in First Things: A Journal of Religion, Culture, and Public Life, November 6, 2008.
- Cynthia Haven, "Christianity Will Be Victorious, But Only In Defeat": An Interview with René Girard, in First Things: A Journal of Religion, Culture, and Public Life, July 16, 2009.
- René Girard, "On War and Apocalypse" in First Things: A Journal of Religion, Culture, and Public Life, Aug/Sept 2009.
Organizations inspired by mimetic theory
- Colloquium on Violence & Religion
- Association Recherches Mimétiques, founded in 2006.
- Imitatio, founded in 2008. Accessed 24 November 2008
- Imitation, Mimetic Theory, and Religious & Cultural Evolution - A Templeton Advanced Research Project, a two-year project.
- The Raven Foundation. This foundation "seeks to promote healing, hope, reconciliation and peace by offering insight into the dynamics of conflict and violence".
- Theology and Peace, founded in 2008. "An emerging movement seeking the transformation of theological practice through the application of mimetic theory".
- Colloquium on Violence and Religion, Annual Conference 2004: Nature, Human Nature, and the Mimetic Theory. Some of the conference papers are available here. Accessed 24 November 2008
- Paul Nuechterlein: Girardian Reflections on the Lectionary: Understanding the Bible Anew Through the Mimetic Theory of René Girard Accessed 24 November 2008
- Philippe Cottet: On René Girard. Available in French and English. Accessed 24 November 2008
- Mark Gordon: Was Christ Just Another ‘Scapegoat’? May 3, 2006. Accessed 24 November 2008
- Thomas A. Michael: How To Scapegoat the Leader. A Refresher Course (for those who do not need it). An introduction to Girard. Accessed 24 November 2008
- Joseph Bottum: "Girard among the Girardians" in First Things: A Journal of Religion, Culture, and Public Life, March 1996. A review of Violence Unveiled by Gil Bailie, The Sacred Game by Cesareo Bandera, The Gospel and the Sacred by Robert G. Hamerton-Kelly, and The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred by James G. Williams. Accessed 24 November 2008
- Paolo Diego Bubbio: "Mimetic Theory and Hermeneutics" in Colloquy 9 (2005). Accessed 24 November 2008
- University of St Andrews, UK: Honorary degrees - June 2008. Accessed 26 November 2008
- Gerald J. Biesecker-Mast: “Reading Walter Wink's and Rene Girard's Religious Critiques of Violence as Communication Ethics.” National Communication Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, November 20-23, 1997. A short and clear explanation of the thought of Girard (principally) among other similar thoughts about people, violence and society.
- "Scapegoats and Sacrifices: Rene Girard". Australian Broadcasting Commission - Philosopher's Zone. Accessed 24 November 2008
- Trevor Merrill: "On War: Apocalypse and Conversion: Review Article on René Girard's Achever Clausewitz and Jean-Michel Oughourlian's Genèse du désir" in Lingua Romana: a journal of French, Italian and Romanian culture Volume 6, number 1 / fall 2007. Accessed 24 November 2008
- The website Preaching Peace contains a number of articles related to René Girard, for example:
- Per Bjørnar Grande: Girard's Christology (no date).
- Per Bjørnar Grande: Comparing Plato's Understanding of Mimesis to Girard's (no date).
- Matthew Pattillo: Violence, Anarchy and Scripture: Jacques Ellul and René Girard. Originally published in Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis and Culture Vol 11, Spring 2004.Accessed 12 February 2009
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