Luke Burgis

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

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 travel 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.

Drawing on his experience as an entrepreneur, teacher and student of classical philosophy, Luke Burgis shares tactics that help turn blind wanting into intentional wanting – to be more in control of the things we want, and to find more meaning in our work and lives.


ISBN: 9781800750562

Published: July 1, 2021


ISBN: 9781800750579

Published: June 1, 2021


Reviews for Wanting

‘A spellbinding read’ – Adam Grant

‘Luke Burgis makes Girard’s ideas come alive for those of us who don’t have a Ph.D. in literary studies. This fascinating and playful book will be of particular help for anyone who leads or manages people’ – Jonathan Haidt

‘I love the book’ – Ryan Holiday

‘Offer(s) some fresh perspectives on our desires, what is really driving them and how we take more control’ – Financial Times, Best June Business Books

‘By helping us understand the destructive power of mimetic desire, Burgis offers a way to extricate ourselves and our communities from its harmful grip to form a more human, empathetic, and value-based world’ – Stephen Hanselman, co-author of Lives of the Stoics

‘Luke Burgis has produced the go-to book on this topic’ – Tyler Cowen

‘His prose is punchy. His anecdotes are entertaining. There are even witty cartoons… Part philosophical tract, part self-help guide, Wanting is a thought-provoking book. It’s also a deeply moral one. Like many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Burgis wants to create a better world. The ideas he presents, and his suggestions for action, seem to offer a more realistic hope than most’ – Christina Patterson, The Sunday Times

‘It’s not merely a big-idea book, but a careful, brave and loving account of mimetic theory’s transformative power in people’s lives, including his own’ – Matthew Packer, New Zealand Listener


Luke Burgis

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 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.