Journal Article

Desire and Anathema: Mimetic Rivalry in Defense of Plenitude

K. Roberts Skerrett

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 71, issue 4, pages 793-809
Published in print December 2003 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online December 2003 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI:
Desire and Anathema: Mimetic Rivalry in Defense of Plenitude

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Rene Girard argues that human desire based on a fundamental experience of lack leads inevitably to mimetic rivalry and violence. In response, both secular and theological thinkers have tried to articulate modes of desire based on plenitude rather than lack. This article compares efforts by James Hans (from a secular perspective) and John Milbank (from a theological perspective) to define modes of desire based on fullness. While I affirm their objective, the article explores how arguments in support of desire based on plenitude get implicated in mimetic rivalry. I use political theorist William Connolly to trace connections between the fullness of desire and the urge to anathematize, rather than oppose, a rival position. I argue that affirmations of desire based on fullness must remain alert to the emergence of rivalry and violence in their course.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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