April 26, 2019
Zephyr Institute

Prophet of Envy: An Introduction to René Girard

A Zephyr Salon with literary critic and 2018/19 National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar, Cynthia Haven

Time & Location

April 26, 2019
Zephyr Institute
560 College Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306, USA

Description

In her latest book, Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard, literary critic Cynthia Haven delivers an insightful introduction to one of the most influential thinkers of our time, René Girard (1923-2015). A professor at Stanford as well as a historian, literary critic, and philosopher of sociology, Girard is best known for his theory of mimetic desire, which holds that “human behavior is driven by imitation.” We desire things because others desire them.  This explanatory theory has broad implications for our understanding of modern conflict, the economy, and even the rise of Silicon Valley.

 

In this Zephyr Salon, Ms. Haven introduced us to Girard, whom she knew toward the end of his life. She explained the significance of his intellectual contributions and shared stories from his life that revealed more about the man he really was. 

Speaker

CYNTHIA HAVEN

CYNTHIA HAVEN

Author and 2018/19 National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar

Related Publications

Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard (Michigan State University Press, 2018)
Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard (Michigan State University Press, 2018)

“René Girard (1923–2015) was one of the leading thinkers of our era—a provocative sage who bypassed prevailing orthodoxies to offer a bold, sweeping vision of human nature, human history, and human destiny. His oeuvre, offering a ‘mimetic theory’ of cultural origins and human behavior, inspired such writers as Milan Kundera and J. M. Coetzee, and earned him a place among the forty ‘immortals’ of the Académie Française. Too often, however, his work is considered only within various academic specializations. This first-ever biographical study takes a wider view. Cynthia L. Haven traces the evolution of Girard’s thought in parallel with his life and times. She recounts his formative years in France and his arrival in a country torn by racial division, and reveals his insights into the collective delusions of our technological world and the changing nature of warfare. Drawing on interviews with Girard and his colleagues, Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard provides an essential introduction to one of the twentieth century’s most controversial and original minds.”

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