Luke Burgis #087 | Jack Murphy Live

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Key Takeaways

  • Desire is why people want what they want
    • Mimetic desire: relying on external references “to show us what is wantable”
    • We are usually unaware of how much of our self-proclaimed individualism is sourced from thoughts and desires that are not our own
  • We often fight because of our sameness, not because of our differences
    • Conflict emerges when differences are eliminated; everyone begins to fight over the same things
  • Mimetic crisis: occurs when there is a loss of difference
    • When friend/enemy distinctions collapse, people try really hard to create differences
    • Scapegoats are the reintroduction of difference, which inherently is the reintroduction of peace (as counterintuitive that sounds)
    • “Humans have always relied on violence to drive out violence throughout human history” – Luke Burgis
  • The problem with data: “Data at its best can only represent the state of things right now…it just captures what people presently want” – Luke Burgis
    • Truly good ideas aren’t shaped by desire; good ideas shape desire
  • An enjoyable life comes down to ordering your desires well
    • You must know the difference between your personal desires and the desires that simply have a great presentation
    • Prioritize your “thick” desires (continue reading for more info)
  • We should do away with the façade of desire and be honest with ourselves about what we want. Living out a meaningful life is not selfish.
    • We are living in a world where it’s harder than ever to express your true desires
    • Listen to yourself more often

Intro

Desire

  • Desire is why people want what they want
    • Desire is how the will is moved at the preconscious and subconscious level
    • Desire is the reason we move with or without intention
    • “This topic that we’re discussing today is to psychology what gravity is to physics” – Luke Burgis
  • Luke references René Girard as his largest influence on memetic desire
    • Girard’s main thesis: Rather than relying on our instinctual mechanisms for desire, we often rely on external references “to show us what is wantable” – this is mimetic desire
    • We are usually unaware of how much of our self-proclaimed individualism is dependent on external reference points
    • Girard anchors his theories in anthropology rather than theology
  • “Desire transcends the material” – Luke Burgis
    • Anecdote: Luke tells a story about he turned down a girl for prom, he had no desire to go. Later that week, his sports rival asked that same girl to prom, and she said yes. Suddenly, Luke had an overwhelming desire for this girl.
  • An enjoyable life comes down to ordering your desires well
    • You must know the difference between your personal desires and the desires that simply have a great presentation

Unrealized Sources of Mimetic Desire

  • Think of your dream job, where did you even get that idea in the first place?
    • Luke discusses how adolescent students are very susceptible to their surroundings. They’ll get an idea for a career that isn’t even their own.
  • Social media exponentially drives mimetic influence
    • This desire to weigh in on every topic can only be held up by mimicking the thoughts of others. Creating your own thesis takes time and effort, and social media doesn’t promote this intellectual process.
    • Exercise: Try doing your own research and formulate your own ideas before letting your perception be shaped by the thought of others on social media. Do the work.

Sameness & Difference

  • “Humans tend to want what other people want…this naturally leads us into rivalry” – Luke Burgis
    • Rivalry is at the heart of human behavior
  • We often fight because of our sameness, not because of our differences
    • Conflict emerges when differences are eliminated, everyone begins to fight over the same things
  • Mimetic crisis: occurs when there is a loss of difference
    • When everyone is imitating everyone, you have a loss of distinction. People begin to become more alike.
    • When friend/enemy distinctions collapse, people try really hard to create differences
  • Scapegoats are the reintroduction of difference, which inherently is the reintroduction of peace (as counterintuitive that sounds)
    • “Humans have always relied on violence to drive out violence throughout human history” – Luke Burgis
  • We want people to desire what we desire as a form of validation, but not enough to need to compete
    • Example: Think of a romantic relationship. You want your friends to think of your partner as desirable, but you’re certainly not inviting competition.

Mimetic Desire in Christianity

  • Memetic desire has completely reframed the way Luke interprets the Bible
    • Example: Eve eating the apple wasn’t a desire of her own, it was a suggested desire by the serpent
  • Pontius Pilate didn’t want to crucify Jesus, but he was coaxed on by the mob
    • We want what other people want
  • Whether you believe religious texts are factual or mythological, they can teach us a lot about human behavior

Thin & Thick Desires

  • “Do we have infinite desires or do we have a desire for the infinite?” – Luke Burgis
    • Luke believes the ladder is true
  • Thin desires (drugs, alcohol, social media) may provide short term satisfaction, but they eventually run out and lead to disappointment—they are temporary
    • Society is at a crisis point of overpromoting thin desires. It’s not sustainable and people are feeling meaningless.
    • People are lacking reference points (community, religion, relationships, context, etc.)
  • Thick desires (relationships, belonging, meaning) create more pathways to direct your energy—they are a reoccurring investment
    • Dig deep into the layers of your thick desires, and discover the infinite rather than just scraping the surface
    • Exercise: Put your work down and call the friend you haven’t talked to in forever. Take a walk without your phone. Constantly find ways to replace thin desires with thick desires.

The Disadvantage of Data

  • We over-idolize data
  • “Data at its best can only represent the state of things right now…it just captures what people presently want” – Luke Burgis
    • Elon Musk goes with his gut rather than the market research because new ideas go beyond the data
    • Truly good ideas aren’t shaped by desire, good ideas shape desire

Parting Thoughts

  • We should do away with the façade of desire and be honest with ourselves about what we want. Living out a meaningful life is not selfish.
    • We are living in a world where it’s harder than ever to express your true desires
    • Listen to yourself more often
  • “Everybody’s modeling a curated version of themselves online, and I think it has contributed to the feeling of disillusionment about what it means to be human” – Luke Burgis
    • Influencers have a responsibility to model genuine humanity
  • “Modeling desires is more important than modeling roles” – Luke Burgis
    • Be a symbol of what you want, not what you do
  • Example: There’s a difference between being a Mom and being your child’s Mom.
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Notes By Drew Waterstreet

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