Thomas RybaCorresponding author

The Fall of Satan, Rational Psychology, and the Division of Consciousness

A Girardian Thought Experiment

23/2 – Fall 2018, pages 301-37
Date of online publication: 30 October 2019
Date of publication: 30 October 2019


This paper proposes a revision of Girard’s interpretation of Satan, along traditional theological lines. Appreciating the essential correctness of the Girardian characterization of mimēsis, it is an argument, contra Girard, that (1) Satan cannot be reduced to a mimetic process but is a hypostatic spiritual reality and, following from this, that (2) the origins of mimetic rivalry go back before the emergence of humankind and provide a model for human rivalry. Employing concepts drawn from Husserlian phenomenological psychology, Thomist theology, and psychoanalysis, it hypothesizes Satan’s psychological state, prior to his fall, as metastable anxiety and trauma and his state, afterwards, as a narcissistic, malicious, self-induced pathology in order to explain Satan’s impossible rivalry with God, a rivalry that precedes hominization and has always endangered human existence.

Cite this article

Ryba, Thomas. “The Fall of Satan, Rational Psychology, and the Division of Consciousness: A Girardian Thought Experiment.” Forum Philosophicum 23, no. 2 (2018): 301–37. doi: 10.35765/forphil.2018.2302.17.