Peter Thiel And Rene Girard

Nabeel Qurishi:

“I suspect that when the history of the 21st century is written circa 2100, he [Girard] will be seen as one of the great intellectuals” – Peter Thiel

When Blake Masters was posting his great notes on Peter Thiel’s lectures at Stanford, I found myself fascinated by the influence of Rene Girard.

Girard’s an original thinker. I’m not fully persuaded by his worldview: it explains a lot, but not everything. I’ve summarized his views here.

1. Mimesis determines what you want: In Girard’s view, people have appetites, which are your basic evolutionary needs: e.g. hunger; and desires, which are all other wants, e.g. the desire for a diamond ring. Girard’s belief is that people form desires based on what others around them want.

This is known as the ‘mimetic mechanism’. People take their cues from the people around them. They use other people as ‘models’, and (subconsciously) want what other people want, while rationalizing the whole time. In the diamond ring example, companies like DeBeers create a want artificially, and it catches on like a virus. People want diamond rings because other people want them, but they rationalise it by saying “it shows that my partner loves me”.