Mimetic Evil: A Conceptual and Ethical Study
Articles
Timo Airaksinen
University of Helsinki, Finland
Published 2020-10-23
https://doi.org/10.15388/Problemos.98.5
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Keywords

Irony
Mocking
Emulation
Simulation
Girard

How to Cite

Airaksinen T. (2020). Mimetic Evil: A Conceptual and Ethical Study. Problemos, 98, 58-70. https://doi.org/10.15388/Problemos.98.5

Abstract

Irony and sarcasm are common linguistic tropes. They are both based on falsehoods that the speaker pretends to be true. I briefly characterize their differences. A third trope exists that works when the relevant propositions are true – yet its rhetorical effect resembles irony and sarcasm, I call it mocking. It is mimetic evil: an agent copies another so that the result ridicules him. The image is, in a limited way, true of him and it hurts; we all are vulnerable. I provide a systematic framework for understanding this phenomenon, mocking, in terms of emulation and simulation. Finally, I introduce an idea of universal mimesis and discuss René Girard’s theory of desire. He argues that desires are copies of a model. This may not be possible, and I suggest a modification to his theory. I pay attention to his idea of mimetic desire as a source of hatred, which is obviously related to what I call here mimetic mocking.

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