René Girard is one of the most brilliant and striking intellectuals of the 20th century. His theory on the imitative nature of desire and on the violent origin of culture has been at the centre of the philosophical and theoretical debate since the publication in 1971 of his seminal book: Violence and the Sacred. His reflection on the relationship between violence and religion is one of the most original and persuasive and, given the urgency of this issue in our contemporary world, demands a reappraisal.
Girard, who has been hailed by Michel Serres as "the Charles Darwin" of human sciences, is in fact one of the few thinkers in the humanities and social sciences that takes into full consideration an evolutionary perspective to explain the emergence of culture and institutions. The authors draw out this aspect of his thought by foregrounding ethological, anthropological and evolutionary theories.
Methodological and epistemological systematization has also been lacking in Girard's previous books, and by questioning him on the issue of evidence and truth, the authors provide a convincing framework for further inquiries. In the last chapters, Girard proposes a provocative re-reading of the Biblical texts, seen as the culmination of an enduring process of historical awareness of the presence and function of collective violence in our world. In fact, Girard's long argument is a historical spiral in which the origin of culture and archaic religion is reunited with the contemporary world by means of a reinterpretation of Christianity and its revelation of the intrinsic violent nature of the human being.
Clausewitz, a firsthand witness to the Napoleonic Wars, understood the nature of modern warfare. Far from controlling violence, politics follows in war's wake: the means of war have become its ends.
René Girard shows us a Clausewitz who is a fascinated witness of history's acceleration. Haunted by the French-German conflict, Clausewitz clarifies more than anyone else the development that would ravage Europe. Battling to the End pushes aside the taboo that prevents us from seeing that the apocalypse has begun. Human violence is escaping our control; today it threatens the entire planet.
Christianity, Truth, and Weakening Faith advances just such a dialogue, featuring the collaboration of two major philosophers known for their progressive approach to this issue. Seeking unity over difference, Gianni Vattimo and René Girard turn to Max Weber, Eric Auerbach, and Marcel Gauchet, among others, in their exploration of truth and liberty, relativism and faith, and the tensions of a world filled with new forms of religiously inspired violence.
Vattimo and Girard ultimately conclude that secularism and the involvement (or lack thereof) of religion in governance are, in essence, produced by Christianity. In other words, Christianity is "the religion of the exit from religion," and democracy, civil rights, the free market, and individual freedoms are all facilitated by Christian culture. Through an exchange that is both intimate and enlightening, Vattimo and Girard share their unparalleled insight into the relationships among religion, modernity, and the role of Christianity, especially as it exists in our multicultural world.