René Girard, Emeritus Professor of Humanities at Stanford, has died at age 91. Girard is best known for his pathbreaking work on theories of conflict and violence in human culture.
His brilliant work changed a lot of thinking about deep ideas that first arose as elements of theology.
Three dominant sources of knowledge, wisdom, and pragmatics in human culture emerge from the disciplines of Science, Theology, and Statecraft.
Of these, Statecraft has been a lamentably recurring source of systemic conflict and violence in the course of human history.
What Girard did was to take a scientific systems theoretic approach to analyzing the roles of Theology and Statecraft in exploring the roots of conflict and violence in human culture. In doing so he accomplished an astonishing breakthrough: he found a unifying bridge linking classical ideas from theology to modern systems science. In alloying elements of Theology with modern Systems Thinking, Girard revealed the inherent (yet fixable) flaw in shallow political pragmatism.
Girard's work jibes with that of scholars in many connected fields, including Psychology, Sociology, and the Bardic Arts.
It took centuries for the breakthrough ideas of Copernicus and Darwin to wend their way into popular acceptance. Girard's comparably seminal ideas have been in circulation for a few decades. Will they take root in the public discourse before human culture collapses from a toxic overdose of shallow and myopic political pragmatism?
Will René Girard prove to be the rejuvenating paraclete that humanity has long been waiting for?