Girard’s limits

Girard’s limits June 30, 2012

Godbout ( The World of the Gift , 209-10) gives this searing critique of Girard. For Girard, he says, “violence is primary . . . no love is possible. There are only hatred and ‘desire.’”

Girard’s own analysis undercuts his theory: “In his discussion of the judgment of Solomon, Girard observes that the true mother explodes the infernal logic of mimesis by her lover for this dear being who is her child. But he does not recognize that the very condition for the effectiveness of King Solomon’s judgment . . . resides in the very fact that his theory does not apply . . . . The celebrated ‘wisdom of King Solomon’ is founded precisely on the wager he has made that the logic of love will triumph and demolish the Girardian logic he has proposed to the two women. In this story, two people out of three adopt a non-Girardian position: the king and the ‘good’ prostitute, the true mother. But Girard deals only with the third character, the false mother, who is, moreover, the loser in the story, and whose mimetic behavior conforms to his theory. She loses precisely because her behaviour conforms to his theory.”

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