Luke Burgis is the author of Wanting (2021), a groundbreaking exploration of why we want what we want, and a toolkit for freeing ourselves from chasing unfulfilling desires.
René Girard (called the “Darwin of the social sciences”) discovered that humans don’t desire anything individually, entirely on their own, but mimetically—they imitate the desires of others, which causes them to pursue people, places, and things, even their very identity, based on what other people model as desirable. This “mimetic desire” explains why Shakespeare’s plays have resonated so deeply through the ages, why Peter Thiel made the first outside investment in Facebook, and why our world is growing more divided as it is growing more connected.
We don’t have to be passive in the face of mimetic desire. We are free to choose our response to it. That starts with knowing how it works. Those who do have a responsibility to be leaders who are intentional about how they affect the desires of others.
Drawing on his experience as an entrepreneur, teacher, and student of classical philosophy and theology, Burgis shares tactics for counteracting the destructive forces of mimetic desire. We can turn blind wanting into intentional wanting―not by trying to rid ourselves of desire, but by desiring differently. It’s possible to achieve more independence from trends and bubbles, to be more in control of the things we want, and to find more meaning in our work and life by working with rather than against others to build a better world.
Luke Burgis has founded and led multiple companies. He’s currently entrepreneur-in-residence and director of programs at the Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship at the Catholic University of America, where he teaches business and develops new education initiatives. He’s also the founder and director of Fourth Wall Ventures, an incubator for people and companies that contribute to the formation of a healthy human ecology. He graduated from NYU–Stern School of Business and later from a pontifical university in Rome, where he studied theology. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Claire.
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