The Sources of Violence, Perennial and Modern

“What are the sources of violence? I mean systematic, organized violence, as in war, civil war, ethnic cleansing. Some of this may be explained ‘rationally’ e.g., certain wars of legitimate defense. But much contemporary violence seems to go beyond any rational explanation. Even where some forceful action seems rational, the violence inflicted often goes beyond this, killing civilians, bystanders, committing terrible atrocities. Is there a sociobiological or a ,psychological’ explanation for all this? Or do we have also to invoke some ‘metaphysical’ dimension? I believe this latter direction of search is indispensable. Following René Girard, I want to look at the religious sources of violence in human history. I want to argue that in a transformed mode, these are still operative in our day.” Vortrag im IWK September 2002.