Violence and the return of the religious

  • James Mensch


René Girard speaks of the return of the religious as a “return of the sacred… in the form of violence.” This violence was inherent in the original “sacrificial system,” which deflected communal violence onto the victim. In this article, I argue that there is a double return of the sacred. With the collapse of the original sacrificial system, the sacred first reappears in the legal order. When this loses its binding claim, it reappears in the political order. Here, my claim will be that Carl Schmitt’s conception of the political is not simply structurally similar to Girard’s conception of the sacrificial system. It is actually a manifestation of this. In this political return of the religious, the religious and the political systems are conflated. What prevents us from seeing this is the self-concealment that is essential to the sacrificial act, a self-concealment that also characterizes its twofold return.


Violence Religion Sacrifice The political René Girard Carl Schmitt 



Funding was provided by PRVOUK P18 Phenomenology and Semiotics.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of HumanitiesCharles UniversityPrague 5-JinoniceCzech Republic

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