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Forum Philosophicum

Volume 23, Issue 2, Autumn 2018

Mimetic Wisdom: René Girard and the Task of Christian Philosophy

Thomas Ryba
Pages 301-337

The Fall of Satan, Rational Psychology, and the Division of Consciousness
A Girardian Thought Experiment

This paper proposes a revision of Girard’s interpretation of Satan, along traditional theological lines. Appreciating the essential correctness of the Girardian characterization of mimēsis, it is an argument, contra Girard, that (1) Satan cannot be reduced to a mimetic process but is a hypostatic spiritual reality and, following from this, that (2) the origins of mimetic rivalry go back before the emergence of humankind and provide a model for human rivalry. Employing concepts drawn from Husserlian phenomenological psychology, Thomist theology, and psychoanalysis, it hypothesizes Satan’s psychological state, prior to his fall, as metastable anxiety and trauma and his state, afterwards, as a narcissistic, malicious, self-induced pathology in order to explain Satan’s impossible rivalry with God, a rivalry that precedes hominization and has always endangered human existence.

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