Mimetic Theory in High School

Eric Buys has written an excellent piece imagining mimetic theory being taught as a high school course.

Human beings are essentially crisis managers. According to Buys, in the face of any major crisis, humans ask three types of questions:

1.    Scientific Questions

How do crisis situations in human life arise out of mimetic interactions? How are these mimetic interactions influenced by conditions of the natural environment? Or, on the other hand, how do mimetic interactions construct patterns of human behavior that influence the natural environment in negative or positive ways? How do we normally deal with crisis situations arising out of mimetic interactions?

2. A First Set of Philosophical Questions (Meaning)

What goals are desirable for human life, considering the mimetic nature of human beings? What are we trying to accomplish by studying mimetic interactions

3. A Second Set of Philosophical Questions (Ethics)

How should we behave if we want to accomplish our goals? Should we deal with crisis situations, arising out of mimetic interactions, like we normally do – like our ancestors did, for instance? Should we accept certain morals (of which the origins can be scientifically explained)? Or should we try to change our behavior?

The goal of the course would be to make students more aware of mimetic mechanisms, hold up a mirror to their lives so they can better see their desires for what they are. It allows students to analyze actual, real-world events (like commercials/advertisements) and their own lives, and see the way that mimetic forces are actually at work. They will come away with a much better understanding of their own mimetic impulses and know how to manage them.

All of this material is based on a fundamental understanding of René Girard’s mimetic theory. High schools are more than capable of grasping this theory, and there is perhaps no more important time for them to learn how to do so.