Joachim Duyndam

* Teaching on Thursday 15th

Joachim Duyndam
is Socrates Professor of Philosophy at the University of Humanistics in The Netherlands. He chairs the interdisciplinary research project Resilience and Humanism and he co-chairs the interdisciplinary research project Current Fascinations of Sacrifice. His publications debate the legacies of, among others, E. Levinas, M. Heidegger and R. Girard, discussing such themes as mimesis, empathy, generosity, forgiveness, humiliation, and uniqueness.

Joachim Duyndam is editor-in-chief of The Levinas Online Bibliography. He is member of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion since 2007. His keynote speech at COV&R 2007 is published in Contagion. Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture 15/16 (2009). A list of publications is available at

In the next short interview Joachim Duyndam gives some information about his view on René Girard and about his contribution to the Summer School:

-How did you become acquainted with Girard and mimetic theory?

Frankly, I don’t know exactly when I first heard of Girard and his mimetic theory. It seems to me that I have always known him. I have always felt quite familiar with his ideas. I know that many scholars are reluctant to accept his view, but not me. However, I agree with the critics that Girard’s view is somewhat one-sided and absolute, but for me that is no reason to reject him. On the contrary, it is a challenge to investigate further, to make the theory more precise and more nuanced.

-What do you mean by ‘more nuanced’?

Although Girard himself has no philosophical ambitions or pretentions, his theory does have philosophical impact. For instance, his view of humans as ‘inter-dividual’ beings relates to other philosophical visions, both positively (e.g. Hannah Arendt, Emmanuel Levinas) and negatively (the current mainstream of individualism). Debating between Girard and competing philosophical theories nuances Girard’s view, and strengthens it. In my recent Contagion article, I argue that Girard and Levinas’ theories actually complement one another. Though they come from totally different viewpoints, they add to each other regarding important moral aspects.

-Are you also taking this perspective during the Summer School?

In my contribution to the Summer School, I will discuss an important text of Girard: ‘Peter’s Denial’, an essay included in the Scapegoat volume. In this text, Girard explicitly refers to Heidegger, though rather implicitly to Levinas – both of them being major contemporary philosophers. I will try to unveil parallels and controversies between the three of them, especially regarding the concept of ‘inter-dividuality’. In doing so, I hope to further a better, more nuanced understanding of Girard. I am convinced that such an approach will strengthen mimetic theory.


Who Is Afraid of A Streetcar Named Mimetic Desire?