René Girard (born December 25, 1923) is a French historian, literary critic, and philosopher of social science. His work belongs to the tradition of anthropological philosophy. He is the author of nearly thirty books (see below), in which he developed the ideas of:
- mimetic desire: all of our desires are borrowed from other people;
- mimetic rivalry: all conflict originates in mimetic desire;
- the scapegoat mechanism is the origin of sacrifice and the foundation of human culture, and religion was necessary in human evolution to control the violence that can come from mimetic rivalry;
- the Bible reveals the three previous ideas and denounces the scapegoat mechanism.
René Girard's writings cover many areas. Although the reception of his work is different in each of these areas, there is a growing body of secondary literature that uses his hypotheses and ideas in the areas of literary criticism, critical theory, anthropology, theology, psychology, mythology, sociology, economics, cultural studies, and philosophy.