René Girard – Imitation and Life Without God

In preparation for teaching a literature course in the 1950s, René Girard reread some of the classic novels. In the process he realized that the novelists had had profound insights into aspects of the human condition and that to a large degree, they were the same insights…

In Deceit, Desire and the Novel, possibly René Girard’s best book, he argues that denying the existence of God does not remove the desire for transcendent meaning. Thwarted from seeking spiritual satisfaction from above, the desire gets directed towards other people who it is imagined have god-like qualities of self-sufficiency and autonomy and that we alone have been excluded from this divine status – creating resentment and compounding human misery.

Likewise, various utopian ideas are an attempt to create heaven on earth, frequently creating hell on earth. Trying to satisfy transcendent desires in the realm of the immanent is a disaster, both in politics and in relationships between people.

In this essay published at the Sydney Traditionalist Forum, I also draw connections between Girard and St. Augustine’s notions of the role of God in human life.

René Girard – Imitation and Life Without God

8 thoughts on “René Girard – Imitation and Life Without God

  1. Pingback: René Girard – Imitation and Life Without God | @the_arv

  2. Pingback: René Girard – Imitation and Life Without God | Reaction Times

  3. Indeed, I often think that the denial itself takes on a transcendent significance to most atheists. It would explain their obsession with the thing they claim has no meaning for them.

  4. Nice articulation of the relationship between resentment and (misplaced) transcendence. Also, the contrast between human/mundane and divine/transcendent models of imitation packs a lot of analytic potential.

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