Mimetical violence and modern ethology: towards the problem of the origins of human aggression

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Research Fellow
Affiliation: Depatment of Humanitarian Expertise and Bioethics, Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Science
Address: 12/1 Goncharnaya Str., Moscow, 109240, Russian Federation
Occupation: Junior research fellow
Affiliation: Department of analytic anthropology, Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: 12/1 Goncharnaya Str., Moscow, 109240, Russian Federation
Journal nameChelovek
EditionVolume 30 Issue №3

The problem of human aggression and violence as interpreted by Franco-American philosopher and  student of literature René Girard is analyzeв against contemporary research in ethology and sociobiology. Girard, creating the conceptual basis of "fundamental anthropology", to a large extent relied on the works of the founder of modern ethology Konrad Lorenz and his interpretation of the phenomenon of aggression. However, from the time of Konrad Lorenz, in the disciplines studying the social behavior of animals, discoveries representing the phenomenon of aggression in a new light, have been made. Thereby they indirectly influence the interpretation of the theoretical apparatus of the Girard's anthropology. The authors suggest that a number of Girard's statements (in particular, his idea of the mechanics of sacrifice as the only way to resolve intra-group conflicts, can be reassessed in the light of new data. 

In this way, this article is a kind of polemic between René Girard and modern ethologists. The first part of the article deals with Girard’s statements and the reconstruction of his arguments in such areas as escalation of aggression and sacrifice as a way of regulating an intragroup conflict. The second part of the article is written from the point of view of modern sociobiology and ethology. The article aims to identify commons and divergences between the improvised opponents. The authors of the article suggest that some Girard’s ideas devoted, for example, to the mechanics of sacrifice as the only way to resolve intra-group conflicts, should be redefines by modern science.

KeywordsRené Girard, aggression, mimesis, ethology, sociobiology, animals, society, sacrifice
Publication date24.06.2019
Number of characters37416
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