Mimesis and Sacrifice

Mimesis and Sacrifice (Ed., 2019): this edited volume by an inter-disciplinary and international groups of scholars looks at the ethics of how notions of sacrifice are used in contemporary life, from the military and business to gender relation and politics.

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The book’s central questions emerge from Rene Girard’s mimetic theory: as a social species, human beings develop within groups and acculturate to those groups, learning norms and values from them. Do these shared values unavoidably lead to society-rending competition as people strive for the same things—what Girard calls conflictual mimesis? Was this competitive aggression, in early humans, defused by sacrificial/scapegoating rituals? And did these scapegoating rituals form the basis for later human cultures? An alternative might be that the social nature of human life includes robust evolutionary preferences for cooperation and giving for the common good—positive mimesis. Can we draw from positive mimesis to develop morés and law that are societally productive and allow for greater human flourishing?

To answer these questions, we present researchers from Europe, Africa, North America and Latin America working in academia, the military, and in religious orders of the three Abrahamic faiths. Contributors include Wolfgang Palaver, John Milbank, Ilia Delio OSF, Hassan Rachik, and Anna Mercedes, among others.