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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 84, Issue 3, Summer 2010

Marie Cabaud Meaney
Pages 565-587

Simone Weil and René Girard
Violence and the Sacred

Religion in the perverted form of idolatry/ideology is at the root of violence for Simone Weil and René Girard. For Girard, “mimetic desire” expresses the idolization of another and ultimately of the self: when the individual’s expectations of achieving autonomy through another remain unfulfilled, he seeks a scapegoat. For Weil, everyone is subject to “force” as recipient or perpetrator of violence which is catalyzed by ideology, a form of idolatry. While Weil focuses on the idolatry of ideas, both writers agree that the subject’s desire for absolute autonomy is the source of idolatry and violence. Furthermore, both presuppose suffering as the individual’s driving force, seeking relief in idols or scapegoats; accepting this suffering by imitating Christ is the solution, freeing one from selfish, idolatrous desires.

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