Seeing the World Come Into Focus

Julie Muller Mitchell, “Eminent Theorist,” Stanford Magazine March-April 2016

Girard’s first book, Deceit, Desire and the Novel (published in French in 1961; the English edition followed in 1966), introduced his theory that human motivation is based on desire, and our desires are based upon what others want, emphasizing the role of imitation in our lives. In developing his theory of mimetic desire, he argued that human conflict results not from our differences but rather from our sameness. As people seek what others want, these competing desires lead to rivalry, jealousy and violence. In a 2010 article in the Guardian, writer Andrew Gallix said that discovering Girard’s book was like “putting on a pair of glasses and seeing the world come into focus.”

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