René Girard’s Mimetic Theory by Wolfgang Palaver [Actionable Summary]

This is a comprehensive summary of the book René Girard’s Mimetic Theory by Wolfgang Palaver. Covering the key ideas and proposing practical ways for achieving what’s mentioned in the text. Written by book fanatic and online librarian Ivaylo Durmonski. Supporting Members get full access.

The Book In Three Or More Sentences:

Unsurprisingly, as stated in the title, the book is a detailed examination of the most famous thesis by René Girard – the mimetic theory. The desire of the French philosopher is to explain human existence and also tell us why human relations are so prone to conflict and violence. The theory is based on some of the most influential novels in modern literature (The Brothers Karamazov, Madame Bovary, Don Quixote, and more). Therefore, in this book, Wolfgang Palaver examines and comments on the sources used by Rene.

The Core Idea:

We, humans, form our desires based on the desires of the surrounding people. The people we follow and hang out with transmit their desires to us, and they become ours. This realization not only shatters our precious perception of autonomy and uniqueness, but also explains why feelings like jealousy dominate our minds – when we desire the same things as others, we become rivals as we all long for the same objects.


  • Our own desires are a projection of the desires of others.
  • Violence emerges when two people want the same thing. And since we imitate each other, we end up being violent towards our closest friends.
  • When we strive to be someone we are not, we end up hating ourselves for not being who we really are.

6 Key Lessons from René Girard’s Mimetic Theory:

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