James Bernard Murphy is Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, where he has taught since 1990. His research interests include: Aristotle, jurisprudence, semiotics, political economy, philosophy of education, and political theology.
Where does violence come from? Is there an instinct for aggression? Or does violence emerge from social rivalry? Today, many people worry that religion is increasingly a cause of violent conflict around the world. The French scholar René Girard is the leading theorist of our time regarding the origins of religion in human violence. Girard’s scholarship on violence and religion has taken him into many fields, from social psychology and sociology to anthropology and biblical studies. In particular, Girard’s theory of sacred violence provides a systematic foundation and worldview for Christian pacifism. Ironically, Girard has become the leading theoretician of Christian pacifism around the world, despite the fact that Girard himself was no strict pacifist. In this talk entitled, “A Genealogy of Violence: René Girard in Dialogue,” Professor Murphy will explore Rene Girard’s thinking on religion, violence, and pacifism as well as Girard’s understanding of mimetic desire, scapegoats, and the meaning of sacrifice.