Human beings, according to French thinker René Girard
, are fundamentally
imitative creatures. We copy each other's desires and are in perpetual conflict
with one another over the objects of our desire. In early human communities,
this conflict created a permanent threat of violence and forced our ancestors to
find a way to unify themselves. They chose a victim, a scapegoat, an evil one
against whom the community could unite. Biblical religion, according to Girard,
has attempted to overcome this historic plight. From the unjust murder of Abel
by his brother Cain to the crucifixion of Christ, the Bible reveals the
innocence of the victim. It is on this revelation that modern society unquietly
rests. Girard's ideas have influenced social scientists over his long career as
a writer and teacher.
IDEAS producer David Cayley
introduces this seminal
thinker to a wider audience.