Study Guide

René Girard - Major Arguments

Major Arguments

Let it be known that my major arguments have led to some major arguments. By now, you probably get that mimetic desire is my cup of tea, but I just wanted to leave you with some final insights about my work so that we may part with an understanding of each other.

What are my major contributions to thinking, as we know it? A few highlights:

  • I rethought violence. My work told the people: "And Thou shalt get into belligerent dispute with Others. And to make it Okay, Thou shalt make Sure to determine a suitable Scapegoat and Thou shall get off Scot-Free."
  • Did I mention before that there is an annual conference dedicated to my work? That's right: it's called the Colloquium on Violence and Religion. Those kooky Girardians, amirite? They're so dedicated it's almost creepy. People are still blown away by how I invert the whole "religion is the source of violence" notion by showing clear evidence from the Bible that violence is the source of religion. 
  • We all have desire. And our desire is mediated, meaning that it is channeled through someone or something else. Forgive the New Agey language, but I am simply saying that we want what our best friend wants. We want what the coolest new celebrity wants. We want what a Taco Bell commercial tells us we want. 
  • Conflict—love it or hate it, it's here to stay. Some people hate conflict. Well, too bad for them, because humans love to get their squabble on. Come to think of it, people who don't engage in conflict often end up repressed. Wait—that's Freud's idea. Scratch that. Or read up on your Freud.
  • People think scapegoating is for the good of the community, because only one person (or thing) is selected to take all the blame. Scapegoating may not be rational or polite, but it gets out the violence like bleach on a stain. Besides, everybody's doing it. Right?
  • I didn't have a chance to get into my wealth of ideas about the death penalty, but this is a good place to end. It used to be that people killed people or the church killed people (like, say, Christ or heretics). Now, our government does the job for us. I'm just saying that a lot of folks would agree with me that our government uses the death penalty to scapegoat certain people, all in the name of protecting society from evildoers and other sundry criminals. Is that a good thing? Chew on that.

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