There is a trend in modern times towards taking the individual’s desire to be the indicator or basis of what the good life would be for the individual. Desire is believed to be an outer expression of an inner voice. The idea is that the individual’s desire shows what matters and therefore what constitutes the good life for her. An assumption is that the desire is knowable. The task for a fulfilled life is to reason out what the desire is and, as a next step, take corresponding rational actions towards its fulfilment. John Rawls is a paradigm case of this approach. What is missing, I believe, in assuming the knowability of desire, is an awareness of the key characteristic of human desire: that is, it is always in a process of formation and change. In this article, I try to explore the problems of seeing desire as capable of being made fully present, by looking at the ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jacques Derrida, and Adam Phillips.