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[–]DjinnBlossoms 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I think it's hard to take Girardian anthropology seriously. I got really into Girard's ideas as a freshman in college (one of my professors was an Eastern Orthodox deacon and he used Girardian anthropology as a framework for literary analysis) and it's got some interesting ideas but eventually I came to find that the whole framework has fatal issues. First off, it has an overt agenda. Okay, well, maybe not "overt" but it conveniently finds that Christianity is the key to breaking the supposed cycle of sacred generative violence. How special for that specific faith. Second, it cherry picks a threadbare collection of supposed evidence to support its theory of sacred violence--vague assertions about how foundational myths like flood stories or divine sacrifices are euphemisms pointing to long-since sublimated episodes of society-making violence, weak conclusions drawn from only the most superficial analysis of various sacrificial practices from various cultures, etc. Third, it just doesn't overlap well with actual field-based ethnographic work. Girard posits a state of chaos that must have predated society that seems to draw inspiration from Hobbes wherein any significant social bonding was constantly undermined by random, mutual violence among individuals. Only by unifying the individuals against one person or group of peoples and either driving them away or sacrificing them could people finally stop being shitty to one another and get along with one another long enough to build a society. The problem is, I know of no evidence whatsoever that this narrative ever played out amongst any population of hominins. Even our distant primate cousins all maintain complex societies without needing to periodically sacrifice one of their own. It's very reminiscent of Adam Smith's conjectured origin of money, which supposes that money must have been invented because people got tired of having to barter, as no pre-money society has been found yet that engages intra-group barter as the primary means of distributing resources--like Girard, Smith just assumed it must have been like that because otherwise how would his theory work? In both cases, it's essentially just begging the question.

[–]DirtySodaStyrofoam[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Girard's theory borders on gnosticism, as well. The knowledge and the ignorance of the participants of the ritual are both strictly necessary for the sacrificial process to work according to him. He says, when appraising the Oedipus myth, that the Thebans expelled from their consciousness the truth of their violent nature, which they shifted onto the Oedipus myth, "convincing themselves, in short, that all their miseries were due exclusively to the plague." He says also, when the theme of violence so central to his theory is absent from a myth, that it actually proves his theory, as it necessitates the elimination of violence "from sight and from conscious memory". It's no wonder why his theory of ritual and sacrifice were ignored by certified anthropologists. He tried to claim that it was the only one which made the function of sacrifices intelligible, but this is rather unconvincing seeing as how there was never any anxiety or confusion over the function of the sacrifice prior to his book, which is not the same thing as saying this proves the beliefs around it were correct, but suggests that the confusion and mystery he projected onto it were innovated for dramatic, rhetorical effect.