Ouch! A lot of things start to make sense when you figure out what this statement means to you. This sentence describes the mimetic behaviour we tend to have when we desire things, a concept that has been theorised by René Girard, a French social science philosopher. This mimetic behaviour is not bad in itself. We, as human, tend to ‘’look to model of desire. People that help show us what is worth wanting’’ and sometimes ‘’take ownership of them’’. This mimetic habit becomes dangerous when we start to desire things that only make sense through the eyes of others. Hence the question the video asks, ‘’What do you really want?’’. Can’t we be influenced by things that distract us from what we really want? This influence can be extremely diverse, both in the context of thin desires (things that can be here today, gone tomorrow) or thick desires (things that are deeply anchored inside us). Yes, even matters that seem deeply rooted in us, like a career choice, can turn out to be based on miss-aligned desires. In any situation, the question to ask yourself is not WHAT makes you want to choose, buy or do something? But WHO? Who are the people influencing what you really want? There are so many more things to say about this topic that I want to recommend you this article from the same author, published in Psyche magazine, that not only sums-up what Mimetic Desires is but also how to become aware of it and overcome its dangerous effects.
I heard about this concept a few weeks ago, read the wikipedia page, got to the critics and thought it was not something worth talking about in the newsletter. But yesterday, I found myself reading my notes to prepare this weekly digest and thought I should persist and look for more content about it. I wanted to find content that would express this concept from a different perspective. And that’s exactly what I found on the Farnham Street blog. It immediately clicks in my head and thought it was finally an idea worth highlighting on cmdncmds! The Veil Ignorance, also known as the ‘’Original Position’’, is a thought experiment used for reasoning about the principles that should structure a society based on solidarity. The question asked in the highlight is very powerful and radical. It’s hardly conceivable to fairly and objectively reply to this question because as Shane says: ‘’our usual opinions regarding what is just and unjust are informed by our own experiences. We are shaped by our race, gender, class, education, appearance, sexuality, career, family, and so on.’’, but I think it’s a wise principle to keep in mind If you happen to be in a position where you have to debate or make a decision.