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René Girard, Mimesis, and Conflict (with Cynthia Haven)

June 24, 2024



If you're always imitating others or aspiring to be something else, what's left of the "authentic" you? According to the French philosopher René Girard, not much: Nothing can be truly authentic, he argued--everything comes from somewhere else. This is just one of the many original and counterintuitive claims put forth in Girard's sweeping approach to human history. He argues it is sameness, not our difference that leads to conflict, and he sees religion as a way to contain the chaos as opposed to its first cause. Listen as Stanford University scholar Cynthia Haven speaks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about Girard's theories of desire and violence. The conversation also includes a discussion of the power of forgiveness to put a stop to conflict's rinse-and-repeat.