Mimesis and Desire : An Analysis of the Religious Nature of Mimesis and Desire in the works of René Girard
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The main assumption in Mimesis and Desire. An Analysis of the Religious Nature of Mimesis and Desire in the Work of René Girard is that religion is motivated by mimesis. Mimesis is the foundation of Girardian theory. It is also primary to violence and scapegoating, and engenders both phenomena. Mimesis is the tool by which the religious and anthropological themes may be explained. If Girard’s theory should reveal its total character, the starting point should be mimetic desire. If sacrifice is seen to be the origin of religion, religion will be limited to violence only. The objection against Girard’s religious theory is that mimesis leads into many other forms than sacrifice. When Girard claims that ”mimetic desire is simply a term more comprehensive than violence for religious pollution,” many religious and cultural forms engendered by mimesis are omitted. If violence and mimesis becomes identical, the theory loses its flexibility in order to analyse a wider range of cultural phenomena. Mimesis is the tool by which the religious and anthropological themes may be explained. Religion does not begin with sacrifice, but with mimesis or imitation. If sacrifice is seen to be the origin of religion, religion will be limited to violence only. Among scholars on Girardian theory violence and sacrifice seems to have been overexposed on behalf of mimesis. This means that many mimetic phenomena which are non-violent are considered in a lesser degree. To understand mimesis as the main motivator in forming culture, means, initially, that it is detached from violence. Thus, one can more clearly see religion as engendered my mimesis. However, mimesis can lead to many forms other than scapegoating. Violence and mimesis are not necessarily one and the same. In fact, mimesis does not have to contain any violence at all. The fundamental core in Girard’s religious views is found in a mimetically based christology. As Girard's anthropology requires a christology Grande concludes that mimetic theory is founded on religious belief. Interpreting the theory as starting with mimesis and ending in a mimesis of Christ, reveals that it is fundamentally religious and fundamentally mimetic. As Girard’s theory is worked out from christological reflections and driven by a Christian belief, mimetic theory, ultimately, combines a modern, rational version of a Christian anthropology with a missionary strategy.