The Girardian Origins of Generative Anthropology Eric Gans

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116 pages


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The Girardian Origins of Generative Anthropology  by  Eric Gans

The Girardian Origins of Generative Anthropology by Eric Gans
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Eric Gans gives an account of his own theory of Generative Anthropology through an informed reading of the works of his teacher René Girard.Valuable as a précis of Gans work and for its sustained engagement with Girard. The reader will be rewardedMoreEric Gans gives an account of his own theory of Generative Anthropology through an informed reading of the works of his teacher René Girard.Valuable as a précis of Gans work and for its sustained engagement with Girard. The reader will be rewarded with sharp observations about specific texts and a sophisticated defense of literary anthropology as a way to knowledge inaccessible by empirical science but essential for human thinking.

-Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Stanford UniversityGans performs a richly insightful reading of Girard’s major works, while showing how his own Generative Anthropology builds on mimetic theory by recentering our attention on language as our distinctive human feature. -Andrew J. McKenna, Loyola University, ChicagoGans describes his theory as “a new way of thinking” because it minimizes thedichotomy between religion and philosophy, making possible genuine dialogue instead of sterile rivalry.

Gans learned from René Girard to think of violent retribution as humanity’s central problem: Gans defines humanity as “the species that poses a greater danger to itself than does the totality of its natural environment.” Therefore the key to human origins is to be found in something that can prevent cascading violence. However, while Girard sees the origin of humanity and religion in unanimous violence against a scapegoat, Gans locates it in the advent of language and representation.

For Gans, the solution to the problem of violence comes not when a conflict of all-against-all arbitrarily polarizes into a pattern of all-against-one, but rather when representational language is used for the first time to name a sacred object too desirable for any individual to possess. Representation has the capacity to defer violent conflict because language and symbols can be shared when material goods and social centrality cannot.Eric Gans is Professor of French at UCLA and author of The Origin of Language: A Formal Theory of Representation (UC Press, 1981), Signs of Paradox: Irony, Resentment, and Other Mimetic Structures (Stanford UP, 1997), and The Scenic Imagination: Originary Thinking from Hobbes to the Present Day (Stanford UP, 2007).



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