Why do you want the things you want?

Desire: it’s ubiquitous, social, contagious, and malleable. People unconsciously imitate the desires of others—and therefore they value jobs, spouses, brands, moral viewpoints, and even themselves according to what other people want. This phenomenon has been exploited by internet trolls, politicians, and ad agencies, but it was never fully explained until the French thinker René Girard uncovered the mystery of mimetic desire. In his new book, Luke Burgis draws on his experience as an entrepreneur fluent in classical philosophy to look inside the fascinating world of human desire.

Hi, I’m Luke.

Here are some of my impressive achievements.

I broke my femur in a football game my freshman year of high school. I didn’t handle it well. My grades tanked, and I was kicked out for fighting. In college, I chased the money. I chose a major that I didn’t like and got a job on Wall Street mostly through hustle. I left it to start a healthy vending machine company out of a spare bedroom in Hollywood at age 23. I co-founded two more companies and had everything I thought I wanted as I was nearing my late twenties. Then I realized I hadn’t “found” anything at all. I was on a Sisyphean journey with no escape.

I spent three years in Italy practicing the art of meriggiando (whiling away the afternoons with long lunches, wine, and conversations with good company) and studying philosophy, theology, and classic literature. I couldn’t continue to start businesses and chase dreams without understanding the truth about the human condition—and myself.

My work revolves around exploring human ecology—how our technology, relationships, politics, economics, education, and other systems affect what we want. In the end, each of us is either helping everyone that we come into contact with to want more, to want less, or to want differently. I believe that the future, like each of our lives, depends on what we learn to want today.

Featured Writing


Mimetic Desire 101

What is Mimetic Desire? Nearly everyone (unconsciously) assumes there’s a straight line between them and the things they want. >>


My notes as a creator in an algorithmic world—learning when to ride and when to drive

Luke Burgis

Luke Burgis

Luke Burgis

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My notes as a creator in an algorithmic world—learning when to ride and when to drive.