Gen Scapegoating Essay

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In this essay I will review Rene Girard’s paper “Generative Scapegoating.” The purpose of this essay is to identify and describe Girard’s principle claim that generative scapegoating or “sacrifice” is pertinent to all mythology, religion and anthropology as a whole. I will analyze the evidence Girard provides, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of his argument and assess the importance of his claim. The author of this paper argues that his primary concept of scapegoating, which has been violently illustrated in biblical and classical myths, has heavily influenced recent work in anthropology and psychology. Girard establishes he is not an anthropologist but an historian and became interested in Greek myths and tragedy at the beginning of his studies. “My interest in Greek tragedy led me to the question of sacrifice. The more I studied sacrifice the more I became convinced that the enigma can hardly be distinguished from the enigma of religion.” At the start of his essay, Girard provides three definitions of the word scapegoating; “the biblical meaning, the anthropological meaning and the psychological meaning,” which intertwine to create his own definition; “scapegoating enables persecutors to elude problems which seem intractable.” Girard looks into past narratives, the Greek myths for example, to show a pattern which he calls “mimesis” meaning imitation and to explain how scapegoating works. In the narratives and early societies, violence occurs and people feel some-one is the cause for this grief. After the group, which he calls the “prosecutors” or “rivals,” unify in their belief through Girard’s “mimetic theory,” to offload the cause of the violence, they find a victim who they feel has caused the destruction and chaos and channel the violence on this common enemy. The victim is usually vulnerable or often a minority of the community; seen as an
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