chapter  8
15 Pages

Deferral of War: The Religious Sign System of Ritual Violence

ByChristopher S. Morrissey

In this chapter, the author suggests how Rene Girard's hypothesis can account for the origin of violent religious ritual at precisely the moment of the origin of the human species, understood in Sebeok's terms. In order to show how promising Girard's theory is with respect to explaining the origins of what Sebeok describes, the species-specific modeling system in humans, he would first like to contrast Girard's mimetic theory with the attempted modification of mimetic theory by Eric Gans, who has developed that variation on it known as Generative Antropology. The author argues that the work of Sebeok shows the distinct advantage that Girard's theory has in its attempt to describe the origin of the human modeling system, known to Sebeok as "language." He highlights the controversy between Gans and Girard, and argues for the limits of Gans's approach in light of Sebeok's hypothesis. Finally, the author also suggests how Girard's insights can be read as consonant with those of Sebeok.