revenge

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revenge

a retaliatory or retributive social act. For French thinker Rene GIRARD the concept of revenge is central to the problem of violence. Focusing on the idea of the blood feud, he shows how the mechanics of vengeance are contained within the effects of MIMETIC DESIRE. After one actor commits a violent act, mimetic desire ensures that the second actor's response reflects the severity of the original action. As such, violence becomes a self-sustaining effect; a vicious circle Girard calls the skandalon or Satan. Girard's analysis of biblical scripture illustrates this critique of revenge. He argues against the vengeful Old Testament deity Yahweh, and the advice of ‘an eye for an eye’ and for the New Testament God of peace and forgiveness. For Girard, the importance of the New Testament God lay in the sacrificial offering of Christ. He argues that Christ represents the absolute scapegoat, the figure whose purity reminds the world of the evil nature of circular violence and revenge. See also ORDER/DISORDER