Volume 24, Issue 1, Spring 2019
Thinking with René Girard
Myth and “il y a”
A Convergent Reading of Rene Girard and Emmanuel Levinas
In order to disclose possible affinities between the oeuvres of Emmanuel Levinas and René Girard that run deeper than both the apparently opposite quarters in which they deploy their thought—difference and sameness—and their patently shared view—an ethical concern for victims— their analogue account of the mythical dynamics of undifferentiation should be explored. Due to their very similar endeavor—to pinpoint the circumstances in which mythical violence arises—Levinas’s notion of the il y a as a neutral and saturated field of forces and Girard’s description of the final paroxysm of the mimetic crisis can be equated with very instructive results. Furthermore, because both instances are linked to the primeval situation in which the subject as such emerges, these authors’ descriptions reinforce each other and provide us with a critical account of a realm that should be transcended—the domain of the violent sacred in which force becomes the ultimate criteria—lest we run the risk of a total social involution.