Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life

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St. Martin's Publishing Group, Jun 1, 2021 - Business & Economics - 304 pages
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* Financial Times Business Book of the Month * Next Big Idea Club Nominee *

A groundbreaking exploration of why we want what we want, and a toolkit for freeing ourselves from chasing unfulfilling desires.

Gravity affects every aspect of our physical being, but there’s a psychological force just as powerful—yet almost nobody has heard of it. It’s responsible for bringing groups of people together and pulling them apart, making certain goals attractive to some and not to others, and fueling cycles of anxiety and conflict. In Wanting, Luke Burgis draws on the work of French polymath René Girard to bring this hidden force to light and reveals how it shapes our lives and societies.

According to Girard, humans don’t desire anything independently. Human desire is mimetic—we imitate what other people want. This affects the way we choose partners, friends, careers, clothes, and vacation destinations. Mimetic desire is responsible for the formation of our very identities. It explains the enduring relevancy of Shakespeare’s plays, why Peter Thiel decided to be the first investor in Facebook, and why our world is growing more divided as it becomes more connected.

Wanting also shows that conflict does not arise because of our differences—it comes from our sameness. Because we learn to want what other people want, we often end up competing for the same things. Ignoring our large similarities, we cling to our perceived differences.

Drawing on his experience as an entrepreneur, teacher, and student of classical philosophy and theology, Burgis shares tactics that help turn blind wanting into intentional wanting--not by trying to rid ourselves of desire, but by desiring differently. It’s possible to be more in control of the things we want, to achieve more independence from trends and bubbles, and to find more meaning in our work and lives.

The future will be shaped by our desires. Wanting shows us how to desire a better one.

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Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

Burgis (Unrepeatable), a business professor at the Catholic University of America, argues in this fascinating treatise that desire is often misdirected. His focus is on mimetic wanting, a theory ... Read full review

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Reviewed by Erin Nicole Cochran for Readers' Favorite
Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life by Luke Burgis reads like holding the physical representation of an epiphany or the holy
grail. The amount of knowledge it imparts is staggering, revealed in a way that flows naturally. As the pages continue to turn, Wanting feeds the brain, igniting synapses. On page 64 Burgis states, “Mimetic desire is the real engine of social media. Social media is social mediation—and it now brings nearly all of our models inside our personal world.” Burgis embeds into Wanting viewpoints and quotes from many that had a hand in describing mimetic desire in their own works as well as the founding father of the mimetic theory itself. A man who wore many professional hats, René Noël Théophile Girard was a philosopher, an author, and a professor. The utmost respect that Burgis holds for Girard is undeniable.
Luke Burgis’ Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life opened my eyes in a way that they have never been opened before. Not only is the knowledge in Wanting a gift, but it feels on the level of bestowing a superpower upon someone. You learn how to look at the world around you and your place in it and change for the better. And changing yourself will change your world. Wanting by Luke Burgis is one of those books that makes you wonder why you’ve been reading fiction when the reality that we live in is so much more intriguing.

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About the author (2021)

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 also 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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