Violence, the Sacred, and Things Hidden

Violence, the Sacred, and Things Hidden

A Discussion with René Girard at Esprit (1973)

Breakthroughs in Mimetic Theory

by René Girard

Translated by Andrew J. McKenna

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Imprint: Michigan State University Press

150 Pages, 4.50 x 6.00 x 0.00 in

  • ISBN: 9781611864069
  • Published: November 2021



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Never before translated in English, this 1973 discussion between René Girard (1923–2015) and other prominent scholars represents one of the most significant breakthroughs in mimetic theory. Organized by the French journal Esprit, the conversation was an opportunity for Girard to debate with his interlocutors the theories he expounded in Violence and the Sacred (1972). These scholars prompted him to reconsider the book’s strictly sociological interpretation of religion, highlighting the misrecognition of violent scapegoating at its origins and in its myths and ritual practices, by addressing the relation between his critique of primitive or archaic religion and the role of Judeo-Christianity. The ensuing discussion opened up an entirely new and admittedly startling phase of his thinking, where he deployed an epistemology rooted in Biblical revelation, which he viewed as an ongoing deconstruction of sacrificial practices. In this text, he vindicates for the very first time the anthropological relevance of Judeo-Christian scriptures. The 1973 discussion thus marks a new and decisive step in Girard’s intellectual journey, making this volume a critical document for understanding the transition period between Violence and the Sacred and Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World (1978).