Hans Weigand

* Teaching on Friday 16th

Hans Weigand is Associate Professor Computer Science at the Faculty of Economics and Business, Tilburg University, The Netherlands.  He has published numerous articles in international journals and conferences in the field of information systems and supervised several Ph.D. projects. Since several years, he is coordinator of the SIKS Ph.D. course on Research Methods.

Hans has been interested in Mimetic Theory for almost 30 years and did prepare the first translation of one of Girard’s books in Dutch. Here are his answers to a few questions:

Can you say a few words about how you discovered the work of René Girard? - The first time I encountered the name of René Girard was in a book by Paul TournierThe Violence Inside. This was in the late seventies. Raised in a christian family, I was well acquainted with the christian message of Jesus' sacrifice, but an anthropological perspective was new to me. Then I had the luck that the Vrije Universiteit where I studied started a discussion group on the work of Girard, in preparation of the honorary degree that he would receive. This group has inspired me already for about 25 years.

You are the first translator of René Girard's Mensonge. What made you embark on this enterprise? -
I guess that many people having discovered Girard have the experience that they want to share it with others. But not everybody in Holland reads French. When I was talking about translations, Roel Kaptein argued that Mensonge romantique was most foundational to Girard's thinking. And so I started. Hubert Darthenay, a native French speaker, helped me and we had many interesting discussions.

Girard's Mensonge is a book about literature, whereas, in your academic career, you are clearly more focussed on technical domains like for instance system theory. How do these two realms in your view interrelate? - I have a drive for understanding. The way how to get at this understanding is secondary. The way René Girard does approach literature - as a source of truth - was an eye-opener to me. Some critics of Girard say that he tries to reduce everything to just one single principle. However, I do like this attempt. Life is complex, but that does not stop me from trying to understand it as much as possible.

What will be the focus of your contribution to the Summer School? - 
Recent developments in the social sciences challenging the traditional individualistic model of the human rational agent make the Mimetic Theory more and more relevant. I am interested in building up the theory and exploring its potential in formal representations, such as Multi-Agent Systems and Complex Adaptive Systems that I cover under the term Complex Mimetic Systems.

A Complex Mimetic System is a system consisting of agents that are related by means of a certain structure (usually represented as a graph). At the micro-level, agents are assumed to have a basic mimetic drive. What does that mean and how do such agents differ from the rational agent as imagined in traditional economics? At the macro-level we are interested in identifying emergent properties as well as system cycles. Girard’s view of the sacrificial crisis can be represented in terms of system cycles. Assumingly, crisis is inevitable when mimetic competition grows, but the crisis itself is the beginning of new social (sacred) order.


hans weigand