Metaphysical Desire in Girard and Plato

In Deceit, Desire, and the Novel, René Girard interprets a phenomenon he dubs “metaphysical desire” in which “metaphysical” signifies objects of attraction that are not physical things but rather intangible bi-products of mimetic entanglement—such as prestige or fame or social status. These “metaphysical objects” fuel the sometimes frenzied rivalry between the actors in their grip. Desire in the mimetic theory is always subject to mediation, and Girard distinguishes two modes of mediation: external and internal. In external mediation, the model stands outside the field of play of the imitator; in such cases there can be imitation but not the mutually amplified rivalry that leads to violence and scapegoating. In internal mediation, however, the model/imitators become antagonists. In Girard’s exposition, this difference between mediators provides a first litmus test of violent potential. But Girard’s dichotomy is limited to types of mediation, and another dichotomy is possible, one that distinguishes between types of metaphysical objects: those that are essentially sharable and those inherently not so. This extension of Girard’s mimetic theory can potentially cast great light on Plato’s dialogues. My essay will argue both that Plato understood the double-bind of mimetic entanglement and that his “forms” (at least in the ethical/political realm) can best be understood as metaphysical objects of the sharable kind. My points of reference will be primarily Plato’s Phaedrus and Book IX of the Republic (with pointers to Aristotle’s analysis of philia in Book VIII of the Nicomachean Ethics)
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1558/ccp.v2i2.197
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,664
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Aristotle (2012). Nicomachean Ethics. Courier Dover Publications.
Plato (2010). Meno. Cambridge University Press.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Paisley Livingston (1994). What is Mimetic Desire? Philosophical Psychology 7 (3):291 – 305.
Marie Cabaud Meaney (2010). Simone Weil and René Girard. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 84 (3):565-587.
Gene Fendt (2010). Plato's Mimetic Art. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 84:239-252.
Tushar Irani (2013). Reason and Value in Plato. Philosophy and Literature 36 (2):378-390.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

45 ( #106,598 of 1,902,890 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

6 ( #144,693 of 1,902,890 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.