René Girard for Dummies


For anyone interested in getting a fuller understanding of Girard’s ideas, this is how I was introduced to them. It’s a 5 part radio show from CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, that includes an interview with Girard mixed with an easy to follow summation of his ideas by the narrator.

“The Scapegoat: René Girard’s Anthropology of Violence and Religion, Part 1 – 5
“Human beings, according to French thinker René Girard, are fundamentally imitative creatures. We copy each other’s desires and are in perpetual conflict with one another over the objects of our desire. In early human communities, this conflict created a permanent threat of violence and forced our ancestors to find a way to unify themselves. They chose a victim, a scapegoat, an evil one against whom the community could unite. Biblical religion, according to Girard, has attempted to overcome this historic plight. From the unjust murder of Abel by his brother Cain to the crucifixion of Christ, the Bible reveals the innocence of the victim. It is on this revelation that modern society unquietly rests. Girard’s ideas have influenced social scientists over his long career as a writer and teacher.

IDEAS producer David Cayley introduces this seminal thinker to a wider audience.”

4 thoughts on “René Girard for Dummies

  1. So what do you make of aspergerian mimetic traits? because it is known that aspergerians are more mimetic than average people …

  2. nice timing – I was just talking to someone about Trekkies. I think it’s the difference between conscious and unconscious mimesis. Conscious mimesis – Aspies dressing like Mr. Spock and going to conventions – is much more obvious than unconscious. It’s a bit like aliens trying to be human: they exaggerate and don’t ever get it quite right.

    The weird thing about western/democratic culture is that it’s a cult of individuality – an oxymoron – in which belonging to the group means you have to be an “individual,” so you can’t be seen to mimicking others because then you aren’t being an individual (ie, conforming to the program!).

    Trekkies are seen as nerds because they make overt what is covert: mimesis.

  3. makes sense … so doing it they attract violence on themselves, so they become lifelong scapegoats — so maybe the equation with psychopats isn’t so out there, since being permanently a scapegoat makes you carry with a lot of violence (or other equally disrupting emotions)

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