🎙️ 72 - The Power of Mimetic Desire | Luke Burgis

The Real Layer Zero: Shared Desire

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Luke Burgis is an author, entrepreneur, and professor. In his new book Wanting, Luke discusses the mimetic (mimicking) roots of our desires and behaviors. Viewing our species from this lens yields a vast wealth of insights about the nature of society, and we discuss how the internet (and crypto) pose to dramatically shift our understanding of these things.

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Bankless Podcast 72: The Power of Mimetic Desire

Guest: Luke Burgis

July 5, 2021

When we explore what crypto is all about, it often brings us back to the fundamental questions. What is money? What is value? What are the characteristics of a good society? In our conversation with Luke Burgis, we dive even deeper: what drives our basic desires and behaviors? Luke makes an incredibly compelling argument that the root of our wants and perceived needs derive from Mimetic Desire -- the idea that we look to others and mimic what they do.

Mimetic desire appears to emerge among all successful social species. As humans, we learn how to exist in a society by observing and processing those around us. Our parents, friends, and communities at large all collectively inform how we perceive the world around us. In this model, the individual melts away, and instead, we become interdependent nodes in a network of ideas, ideologies, actions, and behaviors. We often want things because others want them. Although rationality certainly plays a role, it takes a back seat to the more immediate and salient driving forces of mimesis.

How does this relate to crypto in particular? Well, mimesis certainly drives the patterns we find in markets: speculation and adoption are both functions of mimetic desires. This model also applies more broadly when we consider the coordinative power of the internet and blockchains. If we accept mimesis on the aggregate and individual scale, we can more fully grasp the scale and scope of these new social and economic technologies.

Hot off the release of his book 'Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life,' Luke is fascinated by the potential of blockchains to revolutionize how we interact and function as a species and society. However, Mimetic Desire won't be going anywhere anytime soon.


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Not financial or tax advice. This newsletter is strictly educational and is not investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any assets or to make any financial decisions. This newsletter is not tax advice. Talk to your accountant. Do your own research.


Disclosure. From time-to-time I may add links in this newsletter to products I use. I may receive commission if you make a purchase through one of these links. Additionally, the Bankless writers hold crypto assets. See our investment disclosures here.