From the literary study, this atypical thinker had happened to the study of myths and archaic religions. Building an unprecedented work on the nature of religion that led to a paradoxical Christian apologetics. Back on the steps of a major work that transcends the frontiers of knowledge, through an article in Entertainment World in June 2004.
For Simone Weil, “before to be a theory of God, theology, the Gospel is a “theory of man”, an anthropology. “ If the work of René Girard joined the intuition of the philosopher is the reverse path: it is anthropology that led to the Gospels, after many detours. Starting from literary criticism to make, in his last book, frankly apologetic, the work of René Girard has consistently sought to transcend the boundaries of genres to achieve as comprehensive a knowledge as possible. Approach that earned him many heresy trials, but who especially made extraordinarily fruitful.
His thinking is an assumption in perpetual quest for clarifications and confirmations, each of his books and has complemented specify the previous ones, providing a work increasingly coherent. That’s why the last books of Girard, I see Satan fall like lightning (Grasset, 1999) or Home from the Hill (Desclée de Brouwer, 2001 ) are perhaps the best introduction to his work. This is especially true of one who has just appeared Desclée Brouwer, Culture Origins (the publisher accompanied by a collective book of essays about René Girard, Cain Policies ) that looks like a long interview in which the author reflects on his intellectual journey. Golden opportunity to regain the path of a thought that has often put off by its complexity considered.
Born December 25, 1923 in Avignon, a chartist and anticlerical father and a Catholic mother, René Girard separates the Church from its thirteen. It is his research that will bring the much later to faith, scientific discovery that will lead him to the truth of the Gospels. Chartist became his turn, he accepts after the war in a French assistant in the US, with “want to escape” . There will his entire career.
It is in literary criticism he made his first fundamental discovery, explained in Deceit and romantic truth (1961). It is in fact the study of great authors, Proust, Shakespeare, Cervantes or Dostoyevsky, who reveals that countdown of the romantic theory that the desire would be the most personal expression of the individual, it s’ is actually an essentially mimetic phenomenon. According to him, human desire is preferably on by his fellow desired objects: the object is less important than the alter ego who desires, built in model, but also rival – what Girard calls the rivalry mimetic. “Men can compete to the death about an eggshell, says Shakespeare in Hamlet ” , Girard observes. In this rivalry in which the object is no longer the real issue, but where the violence of the quarrel is ready to feed on whatever pretext, the model itself tends to imitate his imitator: “When an imitator tries to snatch his model the object of their common desire, it resists course, and desire becomes more intense both sides “; the rivalry is exacerbated until we can no longer distinguish between the rivals: each has become twice the other. The outcome of this rivalry tends violence by contagion to spread to all of society. In this mimetic crisis, hierarchies disappear, individuals differences are nothing compared to the symmetry of the mimetic rivalry that turns into what Hobbes called “the struggle of all against all.” Until appeasement can take place on the back of the scapegoat.
But to put theory and the desire to conflict theory, it was necessary to pass the critical Girard literary anthropology, which he does by himself. Released in 1972, Violence and the Sacred Girard operates the second revolution. Behind the ancient or primitive myths he seeks to reveal the phenomenon of scapegoat: to defuse the mimetic crisis, archaic society interrupts the cycle of reciprocal violence by diverting a scapegoat, innocent randomly chosen, enough outside the community not to arouse within it a revenge gear, but with it having enough points of contact so that we can hold him guilty of antagonisms that his sacrifice must end. The crimes charged against him that will generally be related to the breaking of taboos and differentiations that create barriers against violence: and Oedipus is it accused of parricide and incest, crimes which symbolize essentially mimetic confusion brought to its incandescence.
But as in mimetic rivalry subject matter, here the victim is less important than the process that aims to channel the internecine violence, destructive to a “good” violence, one that will bring together the community divided in a reconciliatory unanimously. This sacrifice has providentially reported concord, the victim is then deified as a source of renewed prosperity (which explains why the passage “The Olympes are populated by creatures who have to their credit a large number of murders, rape, incest and parricide “). Archaic company will then seek to prevent renewal of mimetic crisis by renewing the murder of the scapegoat: this is the origin of sacrifice, and therefore the religious. The rite seeks to repeat mechanically, the effect “a first spontaneous lynching which restored order in the community because he has redone against the scapegoat, and around it, the The unit lost in reciprocal violence. “
This is a murder founder was born the religious phenomenon and, through him, human culture through prohibitions that aim to prevent the contagion of violence mimetic: “Human culture is essentially an effort to prevent violence to be unleashed by separating and” differentiating “all aspects of public and private life, which, if left to their natural reciprocity, may sinking into irremediable violence. “ So the stranglehold of religion on primitive societies is no longer the universal instrument of domination saw the Enlightenment What a cunning priests eager to consolidate their power over the unenlightened peoples naivety, but the necessary protection of fragile societies, perpetually threatened by the violence of explosion that is the heart of man. For Girard like Heraclitus: “Violence is the father and king of all. “ But the effectiveness of the scapegoat phenomenon obviously follows from his unconsciousness, including the disregard of the innocence of the victim, described as always guilty.
The third part of Girard revolution arrives with the Some Things hidden since the foundation of the world (1978): it is the application to Christianity of this reading grid. While anthropologists preceding the massively hostile to religious, argued similarities between archaic myths and biblical stories to discredit Christianity reduced to the level of myth, Girard, for a prodigious reversal, will instead use these similarities to highlight . the radical novelty of Christianity
In the Old Testament, in fact, the phenomenon of the scapegoat is constantly present: but while the archaic myths espouse the view of the lynch mob, pointing to the envi presumed guilt of the victim, the Bible, the victim’s wife, which she proclaims innocence is murdered Abel by Cain (murder from which arises the prohibition of murder, which protects even one who has committed), Joseph is sold by his brothers … For Girard, the Bible is a slow progression towards the absolute refusal of victimhood mechanism, which culminate with the Passion of Christ, but already announced by the judgment of Solomon the king, who proposing to halve child prostitutes argue that the two are, one responds with a sacrifice that is apparent from the archaic logic – kill the innocent child to restore harmony; the other, his real mother is ready to apply to itself a Christlike sacrifice – give up what she holds most dear to spare the innocent. Instead of archaic religions, it is obviously in favor of the second tranche as the Bible.
If the Passion of Christ is part of the mechanism of the scapegoat, an innocent victim offered to the crowd because that “it is better that one man die for the people and that the nation should not perish entirely” (John xi, 50), it is to denounce and end . Jesus, in which he addresses the Pharisees curses, reproaches them “all the righteous blood shed upon the earth since Abel” ; if they do not hear his word, is that they are “son of Satan”, “from the beginning was homicide” – see how Girard confirmation that it is this logic founding murder that Jesus came to abolish. And, by offering himself in sacrifice, he takes Satan in his own trap: the Adversary believes triumph once again renewing the murder of an innocent victim, without understanding that the innocence of the victim will unveil the innocence of all those that preceded it, and all those who follow him. And as the tenth commandment: “You shall not covet the good of your neighbor” , has developed the most formidable barriers against mimetic rivalry, as Christ shows us the way out of cycle of violence that results in: refusing to answer hatred with hatred, it breaks the chain of violence, of course high price, since by doing so, it refers to the crowd as a victim
<. p> So Christianity is the only religion that reveals the violence that is at the heart of human relationships, and denounces the false unanimity which is based on it; while offering to man the only model that allows out of mimetic rivalry – God’s way, which involves stretching the left cheek and to love their enemies. While keeping the main prohibitions that protect against violence, Christianity robs us of that “sacrificial crutch” that drives us to carry over the scapegoat the weight of our own violence: man is replaced in front of its own responsibilities, it is for him to bear the burden
Two thousand years after the revolution, modern society is in a case of unprecedented figure:. having lost the unconscious wisdom traditional societies and seeking to overcome Christianity, she gave up the ancient protections against violence, believing that it comes from the differences and hierarchies, which are, however, many barriers mimetic rivalry: ” Where the difference is lacking, it is the violence that threatens “, says Girard. Similarly, she struggles to break down boundaries, thinking and remove as much rivalry occasions when on the contrary so many safeguards that it eliminates. By advocating absolutism of desire, in sanctifying the competition and by declaring the equality of all with all, she unleashed more than ever mimetic rivalry, lack of lead as once a sacred violence, birth of a widespread neurosis. Heir reluctantly Judeo-Christian revolution has sacralized victim while placing themselves in a position to produce more and more. “It seems we are headed an appointment planetary of all humanity with its own violence” writes Girard. “In a truly globalized world, the renunciation of violent escalation will inevitably become ever more obvious way, the condition sine qua non survival. “If the work of René Girard appears prophetic, it is because it not only alarm us about the dangers that threaten us, enlightens us but also the ways that save us.
- “From violence to divinity” , René Girard, Grasset Library, 1487 pages, € 29.50.
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