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Rene Girard and the Cross

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• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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We discussed Rene Girard today in the contemporary euro class.  Girard is best known in literary criticism circles, but his work should be of interest to philosophers.  We discussed, in particular, his ‘anthropology of religion’ and the scapegoating mechanism.  Here is an article that gives a nice summary of Girard’s view and then applies it to the Cross.  What is interesting for those interested in pomo philosophy is how Girard abandons the transactional ‘economy of exchange’ found in ordinary substitution theories of atonement and makes room for an an-economic understanding of the Cross that introduces a new ‘logic of the gift’.  An appropriate topic on Good Friday.



  1. Rob says:

    I wonder, Kleiner, what you would make of Austrian Ulrich Seidl’s film Jesus, Du Weisst:

    I’ve been puzzling for a while over the odd circumstance that, though intellectually it seems like mushy obscurantism, what you describe as “negative theology” seems to characterize a good deal of my taste in films, as if what I renounce at the discursive level of propositionally-structured thought were sought in the Antonioni- and Bresson-influenced work of contemporary arthouse cinema.


  2. Kleiner says:

    I’ve not seen the Seidl film, I’ll try to see it sometime.

    Thanks for the interesting tidbit on how your ‘taste’ moves you in a different direction than your intellect (if that is a fair way of characterizing what you said). I am influenced enough by later Heidegger to think that all of the really interesting stuff comes on the hither side of propositionally-structured (that is, technological) thought. I think sound metaphysics proves true but uninteresting (from the subjective point of view) things about God. The subjectively meaningful stuff is beyond proposition (concept). All theology ends up dissolving into praise.
    That said, I try to hit from both sides of the plate – I’ll play ball with metaphysics, but my heart is with the mushy obscurantism! I am continentally trained, so the line between poetry and philosophy is pretty obscure for me! :)


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