Assessing Myths and Rituals in Human Society by Rene Girard

Paper Type: 
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1871 Words
Date:  2021-03-11

Rene Girard is a professor whose ideas critics classification. He is a specialist in French language, literary criticism, psychology, sociology, history, and biblical hermeneutics alongside Civilization at Stanford University. He mainly focuses on anthropology and assessing myths and rituals in human society in his works. He views in mimetic theory people copy from each other leading to jealousies and fierce conflicts. Such conflicts are moderately solved through scapegoats methods. (Girards 1986). Christianity is the best remedy offered. Christianity thus helps to maintain society's order. By use of wide variety information from Greek to biblical, primitive to modern, he quotes the Gospel Passion as a myth so powerful to subdivide the evil of collective violence and corporate murder it conceals. By use of structuralism in an analysis of the biblical texts to augur more debates making his book more challenging to other specialists.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Durkheim's theory of moral individualism and the importance of his debate that a restructured democratic capitalism can reform a person's freedom with a collective constraint. In this article, Durkheim school of thought was vague and varying. He demonstrates the anti-social motives of human beings to set by undesirable social behaviors. He recognized the ethical solution. This article illustrates that it is so difficult to find a morally right individual in the crazy modern world. Just as Girard states the rivalry and conflicts will never cease due to human innate imamate desires (Durkheim & Pickering1975).

Looking at this book which is seminal, we find that he reveals the scapegoat mechanism as a way in which the society transfers guilt onto an innocent individual as a sacrificial victim. In his mythical findings, Girards thesis focuses on scarification of the various innocent victims, leading to good structuralism models. These actions are typical and inborn in human beings. He proceeds to challenge the scapegoat mechanism: for instance the scarification and death of Jesus Christ. In his opinion, Christ's words and activities, and finally his self-sacrifice, shows us that he comprehends this is innate and not unalterable human characteristic. The other the history of mankind unfolds itself towards a greater understanding (Girards 1986) of the criticism of sacrifice. We meet our attitudes of our human race and live in a society in which no ransoms have to be made.

Criticizing his work we can argue that he lacks a particular disciplinary relationship thus leading to ostracism of his work by other philosophers. Though his work is not so familiar with most of the French philosophers, it is still recognized in the humanities, and his commitment as a religious thinker makes it more protuberant among the religious scholars. His writing was so much influenced by his life. Given that he was born in France by a local forward-looking man and wanted to be like his father. His medieval studies at Paris Ecole Nationale des Charte greatly influenced his writing. He wanted to know American opinions about France during his scholarship at Indiana University to pursue the doctorate. He later became a lecturer by career to teaching European literature. After publishing his first book, he became famous for his Christian views.

There are several themes found in this book that can be criticized and deeply discussed. We are going to put our focus on the scapegoat mechanism but to understand it, we must first look at mimetic desire. Putting my focus at mimetic desire, we find that it is Girard's basic concept (Girards 1986). It concentrates on the following capacity of human beings since of all God's creation we are the species that are best at ersatz. According to him, learning takes place through imitation that is doing what our instructors do. However, it is further extended to imitating other people's likes and dislikes. Depending on how it takes place, this leads to emergence of conflicts and more rivalries

External mediation does not result in contention between subjects since they do not have their place in the same world. He takes it that foreign intervention is a mutual piece of the psychology of desire. This is because since our childhood we got better through imitation of our elders and at the end of it all ended up that what we craved for is mediated by adults.

Internal mediation is the case where the mediator and the mediated belong to the same world, have similar desires and ends up thirsty for the same commodities. The subject emulates the model's yearnings, and the question turns out to be foes with the umpire. This endorses them to become adversaries since they will flinch competing for the same entity and the antagonism will become ferocious. The rivalry is well thought-out by Girard to have awful magnitudes (Girards 1986). All in all, we find that everyone has someone they imitate, and everyone imitates someone in our lifetime.

Metaphysics desire is a situation in which a person imitates themselves and become our mediators. This thus leads one to become totally obsessed with resentments of the mediators. His or her desires will never be achieved since the mediator becomes the chief obstacle to the satisfaction of a person's metaphysics desires. They do not understand that nobody can become someone else no matter what. The person must understand that the obstacle is the mediator himself. Metaphysics desires are so disastrous that it leads to resentment against others.

The Oedipus complex coined by Sigmund Freud psychology (Freud 1963). Girard reconsiders some of the Sigmund feuds psychosexual theory. Though to him, some of the feuds concepts are misleading. Human beings are in hefty independent and do not plea imitation of others according to Girard feud was so super in observation though lacked better interpretation. Oedipus complexly is as a result of different models different from feuds models. For instance, a feud argues that a child has innate sexual desires towards his mother and considers his father to be the obstacle between him and the mother thus denying him the satisfaction of his wants. But Girard disputes this by critically using mimetic desire: the boy child must identify himself with the father and imitates him. Though he imitates him, he still imitates sexual desires for his mother. Then his father is his model and the same tie he is his rival. This is the understanding of the Oedipus complex argued by Girard. This relationship can also be related to the Siegel triplet model as he demonstrates that self is not a free-floating consciousness but defined by human existence. Self-discovery is through peculiar physical characteristics. The body is a participant of subjectivity towards the world. The self, therefore, is a product of socialization and social relation thus affects an individual's behavior as opposed to Sigmund (Freud 1963).

The above arguments lead us to the scapegoat mechanism. Scapegoat mechanism enables human beings to satisfy their primal needs for harsh sacrifices (Leiris 1929). Internal mediation and metaphysics desires lead to rivalry and eventually violent conflicts. Imitation removes differences among human beings resulting in the similarity in humans hence crave for ordinary commodities. This leads to a war of all against all according to Hobbesian. These grudges threaten the very existence of people in society making Girard question how the societies can astound their internal rivalry. (Girards 1986)

Philosophers of the early eighteenth century would have come to a consensus that community competition would cease due to social interaction, but Girards understands this paradoxically. To him, the unruly of ferocity is best unraveled with fewer portions of violence. The amassing of mimetic enmities tips to the tumor of grander tension. The tension reaches its peak; communal violence all over a sudden erupts against an individual. The people who were divided now unite against a sacrificed scapegoat. Prior opponents now become allies as they execute vehemence against a prearranged itemized rival.

This process is what Girard refers to as scapegoating. This is an allusion to the ancient religious practices where communal sin was executed on an individual the victim who would be left in the desert to suffer or at times sacrificed to the gods. (Hebrew Bible Leviticus 16: pg102-103) The scapegoat's death or kicking out of their society is useful since it regenerates mutual amity and refurbishment of the prior peaceful existence in the society (Sherbok 1996). According to Girard, this process should be down for the count so that it will work out successfully. The victim should not be seen as the innocent but rather monstrous creature that infringed the forbidden and thus needs to be punished for the evil deeds. The community plays away itself into being sure of the individual is a felonious of the society predicament, and the exclusion of the individual will lead to re-establishment of peacetime and harmony (Girards 1986).

Girard is confident that the scapegoat is the origin of the cultural life. The civilization of a natural man is through scapegoat mechanism as opposed to the eighteenth century accepts as true that it was through the sane embodiment of social pacts. Instead of believing in the accounts that the early man was historical in nature, he believes that scapegoat mechanism was continually used laying a basis for civilization and the civilized way of doing things. This process began way back to the evolution of Homo sapiens. Scapegoat created a chance for the early hominids to co-exist amongst themselves. This is accounted in that the murder of a victim by others led to societal harmony. This peace cultivated the success of the fundamental cultural organizations (Girards 1986).

Criticizing feuds theory about the murder of a father by his son in the Totem and Taboo in providing a thesis for an origin of cultures, he states that feuds observations were partially correct. The dispute was right in saying that murder led to a creation of culture but not through oedipal themes but rather an establishment of the killing was as an outcome of scapegoat mechanism. The crowd murder was so as to reveal to her all the fierceness that was menacing the co-existence in the society. Regardless of the mimicking in the human beings, the scapegoat has never been entirely effectual in the human society. They always need to use scapegoat methods so as to control society order hence retaining communal peace.

Scapegoat mechanism should bring about social peace through a religious overtone, makes the target instantaneously sanctified. Girard actuality in French sociological tradition of Durkheim, argues that the target takes along collective peace, reestablishes social edict and thus ends up being hallowed (Durkheim & Pickering1975). While alive on earth the victim is well-thought-out to be nefarious evildoers who have to be punished but the moment they die, they bring forth peace to the society. Thus becomes gods of the community. In primitive cultures, they are genuinely hesitant of divinities. They hold high virtues but still perform very evil feats. Thus, this how gods are consecrated victims as per to Girard. Thus, all cultures are established upon pious foundations. The sacred protect the already established social peace and harmony. To ensure this, scapegoat mechanism thus becomes active in the core religious bodies (Girards 1986).

Rituals are the initial traditional and religious associations. They are the reinstatement of the original blaming manslaughter. Rituals are much diversified. In Girards view, they are the well-known forms of martyrdom. When an individual is ritually killed, the community is left honoring the event as...

Cite this page

Assessing Myths and Rituals in Human Society by Rene Girard. (2021, Mar 11). Retrieved from

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience and 25% off!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism